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Laguna camp boosts Phl cagers

Photograph courtesy of PBA

Gilas Pilipinas wrapped up its training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna, carrying the valuable lessons of camaraderie, teamwork and playing for a common goal.

Gilas assistant coach Tim Cone said their training camp in Laguna had served its purpose as it solidified the camaraderie of the players preparing for the FIBA Basketball World Cup that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September.

The Filipino cagers are already in the thick of their buildup for the prestigious 32-nation tourney.

They kicked off their preparation with a pre-camp at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City before moving to Inspire, where head coach Chot Reyes presided over four days of closed-door workouts.

Gilas shut down their Inspire camp on Tuesday and are now on their way to the Estonian capital of Tallinn for more rigid training against national teams of Estonia and Finland as well as club teams from Lithuania.

Cone said the players are making progress, especially after holding their camp in Laguna.

“It was really a concentrated camp, and purposeful. Coach Chot did a great job of keeping it tight and really emphasizing team building,” Cone said in a Viber message to Daily Tribune.

“It was a great first step in our preparation.”

Save for AJ Edu and Rhenz Abando, who were still trying to grasp the system, players composing the pool are no strangers to the system of Reyes.

Edu, the 6-foot-10 Filipino-Cypriot, had just joined the Gilas program recently, while Abando played for the team briefly during some of the windows of the Asian Qualifiers for the World Cup, but needs to get re-acquainted with the system.

“They all come from different teachings, but we’re all open minded to be in one page,” added Jong Uichico, a long-time member of the national team program who has served Gilas in the past in different capacities.

Naturalized player Ange Kouame didn’t make the European trip but Justin Brownlee is expected to join when Gilas arrive in Estonia.

Brownlee was placed under health and safety protocols in the United States, then underwent non-basketball medical procedures, which forced him to miss the training sessions in Manila and Laguna.

Also missing the Lithuanian training camp is assistant coach Josh Reyes, who will handle Batang Gilas in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association U16 tournament.

“It’s about the job at hand,” the younger Reyes said.

“I’m just executing the marching orders of the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) and it’s a good thing we started earlier than normal because we’ve just found out less than a week ago that there will be a SEABA tournament next month.”

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