Gilas Pilipinas picked a perfect time to formally open its training camp in preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September.
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said he expects a bigger turnout as they formally kick off their training on Monday — Independence Day — with no scheduled games in the Philippine Basketball Association.
It’s going to be the second time for Reyes to start the Gilas camp.
His first attempt was last Wednesday but only 14 players in the 21-man pool showed up. Instead, Reyes used the opportunity to get to know each other and plot their next move for their World Cup preparation.
Leading those who attended the “meeting” were six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Roger Pogoy, Poy Erram and Chris Newsome.
Also in attendance were Japan-based stars Dwight Ramos, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks and Carl Tamayo as well as Korean League sensation Rhenz Abando, Toledo standout AJ Edu and naturalized player Ange Kouame.
Justin Brownlee, for his part, failed to attend the session as he was placed under health protocols in the United States while Calvin Oftana begged off as his wife was about to give birth.
Reyes said their closed door session will continue before they move to the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna on Friday before leaving for Estonia and Lithuania to battle various national squads and club teams.
Also part of the itinerary is a pocket tournament in China where the Filipinos will face Iran, Lebanon and Senegal before flying back to Manila to play friendly matches against other teams preparing for the World Cup.
Meanwhile, National Basketball Association standout Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto have yet to issue a formal timeline.
Clarkson earlier committed to arrive six weeks before the tournament but his contract negotiation with the Utah Jazz could throw a monkey wrench into the plan.
Sotto, for his part, is still busy chasing his NBA dream and admitted that the earliest he could join Gilas will be after the Summer League in July.
He, however, admitted that the details remain blurry as he has yet to talk to Reyes or any staff of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.