Gilas sets friendlies

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — It will be 80 days before the start of the FIBA World Cup when Gilas opens training camp on Wednesday and a schedule of friendlies is now being finalized to get the Philippine team ready for the 32-nation conclave.

A pool has been formed for camp but Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said yesterday it will be SBP to announce the composition. The pool will likely be made up of less than 20 players to avoid bringing along an unwieldy group for overseas training.

The plan is for Gilas to start with drills at the Meralco gym then possibly, move to the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna for more training and bonding until flying to Lithuania, tentatively on June 21, for a European tour. Before leaving for the recent SEA Games in Cambodia, Gilas was at Inspire for 4 1/2 days and played two tune-up games with UAAP champion Ateneo and PBA club Magnolia.

Lithuania and Estonia are the two countries that Gilas will visit in Europe to play friendlies. Games are being arranged to face the national teams of Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and Latvia. Gilas will extend its training to China where friendlies are scheduled with Jordan, Iran, Senegal and China. Greece has requested to play Gilas in a tune-up here on Aug. 23 but it’s too close to the host team’s first World Cup game against the Dominican Republic at the Philippine Arena on Aug. 25. Instead, Gilas may play a friendly with Puerto Rico in Manila at an earlier date.

Gilas assistant coach Tim Cone said it’s a “dicey” situation playing friendlies. “We want to build confidence in our tune-ups but if we play super elite teams like the US or Canada, we could get beaten up,” he said. “We want to get better with each tune-up and we’re looking at teams that play like the teams we’ll play in the first round.” Finland, for instance, has a similar style with Italy and Puerto Rico has the same Latin flair as the Dominican Republic. Senegal plays like Angola, one of three countries that Gilas will face in Group A.

A US trip may not be in the works as the travel to and from may be too taxing. That could mean NBA star Jordan Clarkson, who is committed to spend six weeks with Gilas, may join the team for training after Europe and in time for China. Justin Brownlee is expected back from a brief US rest to report for practice on Wednesday. Some candidates for the team are undergoing rehab and treatment for injuries but should be ready to resume training either in Europe or China.


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