The ongoing 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament in China will be very crucial in determining the final composition of the Gilas Pilipinas team that will see action in the FIBA Basketball World Cup from 25 August to 10 September.
Gilas assistant coach Jong Uichico stressed that they will come up with major decisions following the three-nation tourney that is being held at the at the Jiangman En Ping Sport Gymnasium in Heyuan.
The Filipino cagers are playing Iran Team B at press time before confronting Senegal on Friday and Sunday. They will wrap up their campaign against Iran on Monday before returning to Manila for the final phase of their buildup.
By then, Gilas coach Chot Reyes will have a decision on who will make the final 12-man roster.
“We’ll be able to make a better evaluation after the China series,” wrote assistant coach Jong Uichico to Daily Tribune via Viber message.
Gilas veteran Japeth Aguilar stressed that they have to stay focused, knowing that they have nothing to bank on but themselves.
Aguilar, who saw action in the 2014 and 2019 editions of the world tourney, said they are holding themselves accountable and wouldn’t just simply rely on the imposing presence of 7-foot-3 slotman Kai Sotto and National Basketball Association player Japeth Aguilar.
Sotto and Clarkson have yet to formally train with Gilas Pilipinas with barely three weeks left before the World Cup, prompting Aguilar to claim that they have nobody to lean on but themselves when the going gets tough.
“It’s really upon us as individuals on how to improve and be more focused. We’re now on the process of sharpening our tools. The World Cup is about to happen and it’s getting nearer,” Aguilar said.
“More than waiting for Kai and JC, it’s really upon us on how we can become better as a team.”
Calvin Oftana and Jamie Malonzo are looking forward to the team’s development.
“The China series, we really need this to figure out where we are right now,” Oftana said.
“It’s our job to be physically fit. We need to prepare ourselves for the practices.”
Malonzo agrees, saying that everything depends on how they will play in China.
“Right now, we’re progressing well,” Malonzo said.
“But we’re going to get better after the China series. After this China trip, hopefully we will be able to say that we’re basically at the point where we want to be.”