Tight sked a challenge for Gilas

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Tight sked a challenge for Gilas
The PBA Philippine Cup is expected to end on June 19 or 21 while the Japanese B-League will finish its season in late May.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — How to fit in practices and friendlies with European teams before the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) is a challenge that faces Gilas but team manager Richard del Rosario said yesterday it’s a case of maximizing the use of the small window of preparation.

The PBA Philippine Cup is expected to end on June 19 or 21 while the Japanese B-League will finish its season in late May. Gilas is set to play its first OQT game against host Latvia on July 3 then battles Georgia the next day. Travel time to Riga, Latvia, will be factored in Gilas’ schedule and jet lag could kick in during the OQT.

An option is for Gilas to take in a few days of practice at Inspire in Calamba before leaving for Latvia. “We really don’t count the number of days, we count the number of practices,” said Del Rosario. “We have two to three practices a day so in seven days, we should have at least 14 full practices. Staying in one facility and rooming in together also develop camaraderie of the team. It’s not a perfect formula but it’s the least disruptive for all the stakeholders who are lending their players. ”

Del Rosario said friendlies with European teams are in the blueprint stage. There are four OQTs scheduled and three are in Europe – Valencia, Spain; Riga, Latvia and Piraeus, Greece. San Juan, Puerto Rico, is the fourth host. Spain, Finland and Poland are playing in Valencia. Latvia, Georgia and Montenegro are with Gilas in Riga. Slovenia, Croatia and Greece will see action in Piraeus. Lithuania and Italy will play in San Juan so scheduling is tricky because of travel time to Puerto Rico. The choices for friendlies could be Spain, Finland, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece depending on their locations. Gilas head coach Tim Cone said SBP has received invitations for friendlies in Lithuania and Slovenia but timing is critical with the limited period for preparation.

Since Gilas plays Georgia and Latvia in the OQT, Del Rosario said friendlies with European teams will reintroduce the players to the physical, position-less, perimeter-offense style of game. Kai Sotto and Carl Tamayo saw action for Gilas in the previous OQT in Belgrade, Serbia in 2021. Dwight Ramos was in the lineup but couldn’t play due to injury. Sotto, Tamayo and Ramos are on the Gilas 12-man roster for the OQT.

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