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Closed-door forum kicks off Gilas camp

File photo/AFP

Gilas Pilipinas kicked off its journey to a glorious finish in the FIBA Basketball World Cup by holding a closed-door meeting Wednesday night at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

Naturalized players Jordan Clarkson and Justin Brownlee were not around as well as rising star Kai Sotto, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the Gilas stars, who declared readiness to represent the country in the prestigious 32-nation tourney set from 25 August to 10 September.

Instead, Japan-based cagers Carl Tamayo, Ray Parks, and Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena showed up to affirm their commitment to the program as well as Korean Basketball League star Rhenz Abando, Filipino-Cypriot AJ Edu, who arrived from a training camp in Australia last week.

They joined Philippine Basketball Association stars Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, RR Pogoy, Poy Erram, Chris Newsome and Ange Kouame, who is a candidate to serve as the country’s naturalized player.

Gilas team manager Butch Antonio said head coach Chot Reyes opted to call off the training. They will resume the workouts on Monday at the same venue before opening a closed-door camp at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

“We just had a meeting, Antonio told Daily Tribune in a message.

“But we will resume our training on Monday.

The sudden cancellation of training is treated as the calm before a storm.

After their camp at Inspire, they will leave for Estonia on 22 June and take a 390-kilometer land trip to Lithuania for a series of friendly matches against the Estonian, Latvian, Finnish national teams and Lithuanian club teams.

Estonia is led by 6-foot-11 center Maik Kotsar, a former star player of its 3×3 team as well while Latvia is bannered by 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards.

Lauri Markkanen, a National Basketball Association All-Star who plays with Clarkson at the Utah Jazz, spearheads Finland.

Markkanen averaged 21.8 points and nine rebounds in the previous FIBA World Cup window event.

After more than two weeks of training in Europe, Gilas will return to Manila on 10 July.

By that time, Gilas may already have Clarkson, who made a commitment to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas that he will be joining the squad six weeks before the World Cup.

Gilas leave for China by the end of July to play in a pocket tournament against teams from Iran, Lebanon and Senegal from 2 to 6 August.

The final stretch of their training will be in Manila, where they will face teams that will arrive early.

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