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Injuries hurting Gilas

GILAS head coach Chot Reyes admits that things are not get well in the early stretch of their preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. (File photo/AFP)

Attendance – or the lack of it – is again turning into a major concern for Gilas Pilipinas as it prepares for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes admitted that things are not going well in the early stretch of their training as injuries have thrown a monkey wrench into their preparation for the prestigious 32-nation conclave that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September.

Their biggest stars in Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto were understandably out, but the absence of the likes of AJ Edu, Poy Erram, Ray Parks, Roger Pogoy, Calvin Oftana, Justin Brownlee, Dwight Ramos, Jamie Malonzo and Jordan Heading had prompted them to drop their full-contact drills during the second day of training Tuesday night at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

The health condition of Gilas is so bad that Carl Tamayo begged off from joining the pool as he aims to use the off-season to strengthen his knee.

Brownlee, Malonzo and Ramos are expected to arrive this week, Gilas team manager said in a Viber message to Daily Tribune.

Brownlee was placed under health and safety protocols in the United States but can rejoin the Gilas pool before the team pushes for its training camp at the Inspire Academy in Laguna.

Malonzo, on the other hand, has not yet returned since skipping Gilas’ participation in the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games due to family matters in the United States.

Ramos just wrapped up the season playing in the B. League.

But Parks and Heading are still nursing separate injuries, according to Antonio.

“Parks has a hand injury while Heading is undergoing rehab in the US,” Antonio said.

Edu and Erram, for their part, were around but were limited only to light workouts due to injuries.

The 6-foot-10 former Toledo College star, Edu, suffered an ankle injury while training in Brisbane while Erram is still nursing a sprained ankle.

“AJ and Poy are still not 100 percent. We were not able to do full-contact drills,” Gilas head coach Chot Reyes told a handful of sportswriters who graced the workout.

“The rest played but we couldn’t get 10 guys so there’s no 5-on-5 yet.”

With the grueling campaigns in the Philippine Basketball Association and Japan B. League, Reyes is having a hard time coming up with a complete roster during training.

In fact, when they were preparing for the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, Reyes had to cancel training a couple of times while calling on veteran forward Sean Anthony to serve as “warm body” during scrimmages.

Now, the same problem is again hounding Gilas as they prepare for the world’s most crucial basketball event outside the Summer Olympics.

“It has already affected the schedule,” Reyes said.

“We are already on a, best way to put it, crammed schedule. We can’t do anything about it. The reality is that injuries are a part of it. And the other guys have extended stays when they went back to the US.”

“Everyone’s timeline was June 12,” Reyes added. “Those who were not here, they have different reasons. There’s too much to go through.”

On the contrary, Scottie Thompson is back in training after missing the Monday session while six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Japeth Aguilar, Chris Newsome, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Rhenz Abando and naturalized player Ange Kouame were also around.

Reyes said he wants everybody to be on board as they head for a closed-door training camp at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna next week.

“This is what we called our pre-camp practices,” Reyes said.

“We haven’t gotten full steam and players are still far from being in shape. They’re not yet in condition and others are being bothered by injuries.”

“Even those guys who are healthy, they’re not yet in basketball shape. It’s a long, long way. But at least, we’re doing some stuff in the first few days of practice.”

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