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Japan-based stars near Gilas return

Japan-based players like Dwight Ramos, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks are expected to arrive on 14 February to join Gilas Pilipinas in its preparation for the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Gilas team manager Butch Antonio made the confirmation to Daily Tribune, saying that the four Japan B. League campaigners will be joining the training 10 days before the final leg of the qualifiers that would be held at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

“They will be here on the 14th,” Antonio said during the team’s weekly training at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City late Monday.

“The Japan B. League will stop before the sixth window so they can come in a few days before the tournament.”

In the fifth window against Jordan and Saudi Arabia last November, Ramos, and Parks were the only Japan-based players who were able to crack the final roster as Kiefer underwent tooth operation while Thirdy was still recovering from an injury.

Now, the four players were again selected to be part of the pool and are expected to vie for the 12 roster spots in the team that will battle Lebanon on 24 and Jordan on 27 February.

Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas training shifted to a higher gear as 14 players, including those who are still fresh from Philippine Basketball Association action the previous night, showed up.

Players from Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, which just played its first game of the season-ending Governors’ Cup the night before, were present in practice.

All four players, from import Justin Brownlee, reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo returned to action just 24 hours after the Kings won their Governors’ Cup debut over Rain or Shine.

Their head coach, Tim Cone, was also in attendance as he ran some defensive schemes for Gilas where he served as one of the deputy coaches of head mentor, Chot Reyes.

Even players from San Miguel Beer six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez, who also saw action on Sunday night, showed their commitment by attending the practice.

Other players who also joined the third session were Calvin Oftana and Roger Pogoy of TNT Tropang Giga, Raymond Almazan and Chris Newsome of Meralco, Arvin Tolentino of NorthPort, former collegiate standouts Carl Tamayo and Schonny Winston and incoming Ateneo freshman Mason Amos.

As soon as the B. League players arrive, Gilas coach Chot Reyes will add a few more practice sessions from the regular weekly training schedule to allow Ramos, the Ravena brothers and Parks reacquainted with their teammates and get to know the other members of the pool.

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