MANILA, Philippines – The time bomb just keeps ticking louder for Gilas Pilipinas.
Gilas has less than two weeks to prepare before facing the powerhouse Australia Boomers on February 22 at the start of the second window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers and head coach Chot Reyes could only muster: “What else is new?”
Reyes said that Gilas Pilipinas will leave for Australia on February 19, Monday, and will have its first practice as a complete team the next day. He said they could not have a complete roster assembled for practice earlier because the PBA players had commitments with their teams until February 18.
“That’s out of our hands. The mother teams have the final say on the players so that’s why when you all asked me what’s my reaction to the more-than-one-player rule, I said, ‘You know, it’s great but you know, the real question is how much practice can we get, ' di ba ?’”
“We have that luxury of having more than one player but we don’t have practice times. Ganoon din . That’s why we’re just making do with what we have, trying to make the most of the situation,” Reyes said.
Gilas also saw its official 16-man pool reduced to 14 after forwards Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan were dropped from the lineup due to their absences.
Although Abueva returned to practice, he will only be fielded in the next window.
Adding to Gilas’ woes is sweet-shooting forward Troy Rosario, who is uncertain if he can join the team against the Aussies after suffering a bad fall last February 7. He slammed his chin on the floor of the Mall of Asia Arena and was carried out on a stretcher to the hospital.
A silver lining to Gilas’ preparation is the early arrival of naturalized big man Andray Blatche, who has been in the country since February 9.
“He looks fit but too early to tell. We didn’t do anything much today. We’re just getting him back to the groove of things. It should be a harder practice tomorrow,” said Reyes.
The former NBA player already joined the team in training on Monday, February 12, which marked the start of Gilas’ daily practices.
Gilas won its games against Japan and Chinese-Taipei in the first window. – Rappler.com