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SBP starts Gilas training on 15 February


For a change, Gilas Pilipinas will have the luxury of time — and, hopefully, a complete unit — when it prepares for a major international competition.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Erika Dy told Daily Tribune that Gilas Pilipinas will start training on 15 February — at least a week before facing lightweight Hong Kong in the 2024 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on 22 February.

No less than newly-appointed coach Tim Cone will preside over the training camp that is expected to be participated by the players from the Philippine Basketball Association, Japan B. League and University Athletic Association of the Philippines.

Dy said Japan-based stars like Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, Kai Sotto and Carl Tamayo will start trickling in around 12 February while PBA players Scottie Thompson, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, CJ Perez, Jamie Malonzo and June Mar Fajardo as well as De La Salle University star Kevin Quiambao are also expected to show up to shift their preparation to a higher gear.

The only potential setback, however, is the schedule of the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup finals in the PBA and the fate of naturalized player Justin Brownlee.

Should the best-of-seven finals between San Miguel Beer and Magnolia go the distance, Game 7 will be held on 16 February, barring CJ Perez and Fajardo from actively participating in scrimmages on the first day of training.

On the other hand, the verdict on Brownlee’s possible suspension is not yet out and the SBP is keeping its fingers crossed, hoping that he gets the green light to play before the submission of final roster for the tourney that dangles slots in the FIBA Asia Cup that will be held in Lebanon next year.

Still, having an early training is a step to the right direction for the Gilas Pilipinas squad that is looking to sustain the momentum sparked by its historic conquest in the 19th Asian Games last year.

“We start on 15 February,” Dy said in a short message, adding that the Japan-based players will also be in attendance, giving Cone the luxury of training with complete personnel.

“Yes, they will (be here). Around 12 February, I think.”

Getting an early, ang longer, preparation is crucial to the Filipinos’ campaign.

Last year, former Gilas coach Chot Reyes struggled training with a complete unit in preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup as abroad-based stars like Kai Sotto and naturalized player Jordan Clarkson came in late.

The same thing happened in the buildup for the Asian Games with four players — Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Jason Perkins and Moala Tautuaa — getting scratched at the last minute for not being part of the long list submitted by the federation to the organizers.

Cone scampered to name the four replacements. In fact, the travel documents of Kevin Alas, CJ Perez, Chris Ross and Arvin Tolentino were not released until few hours before they boarded their flight to China.

A ranking SBP official said the looming early arrival of the Japan-based stars and the availability of PBA stars are testaments to the support thrown by the stakeholders, especially the players, behind Cone and Dy, who were both formally appointed last month.

“It shows that everybody is rallying behind the new coach and the new ED,” said the Daily Tribune source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“When we appointed Tim Cone as head coach, he drew the support of all stakeholders, including the players. That’s why it’s no longer surprising that everybody is cooperating. When he said that we start training on 15 February, everybody supported and hopped on board.”

“Now, we’re starting on 15 February — just the way our coach, Tim Cone, wanted it.”

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