MANILA, Philippines–After giving some of its shoo-ins a breather, Gilas Pilipinas plunges back to work this Wednesday night in preparation for its Southeast Asian Games campaign in Cambodia this May.
“We wanted to give the guys who played in the (Philippine Basketball Association) Finals ample rest, so we’re going to resume, hopefully, full team practices tomorrow,” national coach Chot Reyes told the Inquirer over the phone on Tuesday.
Training camp hasn’t been exactly smooth for Gilas these past few weeks with TNT and Ginebra stars fulfilling club duties in the PBA Governors’ Cup championship series.
A big chunk of the 28-man pool tasked to reclaim the SEA Games basketball gold belongs to the Tropang Giga and the Gin Kings. They are Philippine Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, Christian Standhardinger, Stanley Pringle, Calvin Oftana, Poy Erram to name some.
Also among the bunch is Justin Brownlee, the newly-naturalized Filipino who is shaping up as Gilas’ foremost weapon for the bid.
Reyes and the rest of the Gilas brain trust tried to mitigate the absences in training camp by pushing through with practice sessions at Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
All eyes are on the Philippines, which will try to reclaim the loft perch it sat on in the regional meet. Gilas sputtered against Indonesia in the finalé, 85-81, to yield the gold medal during the previous staging of the biennial meet held in Hanoi in May last year.
Reyes said he’s expecting 15 players when the Nationals reconvene on Wednesday.
This year’s SEA Games basketball tournament will run from May 9 through 16, and Reyes said that the delegation is expected to jet into Phnom Penh by May 6.
The Philippines is reportedly bracketed with Malaysia, Vietnam, and Myanmar in Group B play.
Defending champion Indonesia, which is coming off a tough camp in Australia, is grouped with Thailand, Singapore, and the hosts.
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