After a grueling training camp in Europe, Gilas Pilipinas is finally home but will immediately buckle down to work and switch their preparation a notch higher for the FIBA Basketball World Cup that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September.
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said he will sit down with his assistant coaches led by Jong Uichico and Tim Cone to discuss the composition of the pool following the injuries of key stalwarts and availability of some members of the pool when they resume their training on Thursday.
Set to rejoin the 20-man pool are Calvin Oftana and Roger Pogoy while some players from the Philippine Basketball Association are tipped to be added following the injuries of Scottie Thompson and Dwight Ramos.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial already made a commitment, saying that all of their players are available for Gilas duties since the league is currently on break.
Thompson, the reigning Most Valuable Player of the PBA, is doubtful to continue his training after suffering a fractured right metacarpal injury during their training in Lithuania last week.
It was the same injury that sidelined Oftana for six to eight weeks when he was still playing for NLEX last year.
Ramos, on the other hand, hurt his knee that forced him to miss Gilas Pilipinas’ game against Lithuania Universiade squad.
Reyes said they have to address their manpower woes as soon as possible.
“We have to evaluate and sit down as a coaching staff,” said Reyes, who met Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of adding PBA players to the depleted Gilas pool.
“We have to take a look and get them to an official medical prognosis of Scottie’s injury and get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) on Dwight’s knee because those are very important in the decisions we have to make.”
Still, it’s going to be business as usual when they resume their training tomorrow.
“We’ll go back to practice on Thursday and find a way to stay sharp, which is the most important thing as we continue to grow and develop from the lessons we learned from Europe.”
“We want to improve and prepare for our China series in which we’re going to play, again, full national teams.”
Tough tasks await Gilas in China.
Set from 2 to 6 August, Gilas will be facing Asian powerhouse Iran and Lebanon as well as Senegal in a pocket tourney that is will toughen them up for the prestigious 32-nation tournament that will also be held in Jakarta and Okinawa.
Iran is bunched in Group G with Spain, Ivory Coast and Brazil while Lebanon is in Group H with Canada, Latvia and France.
Senegal, which the Filipinos defeated in the 2014 World Cup in Spain, failed to qualify in the coming World Cup.
Reyes believes that the team is ready after making significant progress during their three-week European buildup.
“We’ve made some positive strides, but it’s still a long way to go,” Reyes, whose wards posted a 3-3 win-loss mark in their six friendly matches in Estonia and Lithuania, said.
Uichico agrees, saying that they are on the right track as far as their preparation for the World Cup is concerned.
“We have made significant strides in our Estonia and Lithuania camps and that’s the course we want to go,” Uichico said.