Gilas starts oqt buildup

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Gilas starts oqt buildup
Tim Cone.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines —  Gilas Pilipinas is set for a three-day camp in Laguna and a tuneup game with the Taiwan Mustangs as it starts building up for its campaign in the qualifiers for the Paris Olympics.

Four months after going 2-0 in the February window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, coach Tim Cone’s 12-man squad reports back to duty today at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, where they will stay until Sunday for the initial phase of preparations.

On Monday, Gilas warms up for the Euro trip with a friendly against the Mustangs, Alex Cabagnot’s Taiwanese club, at the PhilSports Arena.

The Mustangs recently signed former NBA stars Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins but it’s not determined whether the two will suit up in the 6 p.m. game that serves as Gilas’ sendoff activity before its Euro trip.

The tuneup is open to the public, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas announced yesterday.

A day after the duel with the Mustangs, the Nationals fly to Europe to continue their training and play the national teams of Turkey and Poland. They then proceed to Latvia for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament slated July 2 to 7 with Georgia and host Latvia as tough rivals in Group A.

Justin Brownlee, fresh from his stint with Indonesian club Pelita Jaya in the recent Basketball Champions League Asia in Dubai, leads the Gilas crew.

Meralco’s Chris Newsome and San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez are expected in the fold a few days after the grueling PBA Philippine Cup finals that the Bolts won in six.

“I’m excited to get to work (with Gilas),” said Newsome, the Finals MVP. “We’re going to give ourselves a chance to try to get to the Olympics for the country.”

Scottie Thompson, Calvin Oftana, Dwight Ramos, Kevin Quiambao, Carl Tamayo, and Kai Sotto and the duo of Japeth Aguilar and Mason Amos, subbing for injured AJ Edu and Jamie Malonzo, round out the quintet.

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