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Gilas picking up steam

After dealing with injuries the past two weeks, things are starting to settle in for Gilas Pilipinas as practice session continues for the national team training pool in preparation for the Manila leg of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) slated July 5 to 10.

Although two players missed practice session yesterday at the Meralco gym in Quezon City, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin expressed satisfaction with the way the squad is coming together.

“The energy was better,” said Baldwin following the three-hour, closed-door practice session.

“Coach Alex (Compton) said to me third of the way in practice, that we are a different team today than we were in the last practice, and he was right. There’s a lot of energy, a lot more enthusiasm.”

“We just have to keep sharpening it up and keep thinking about the quality of competition we’re going to play and the demand that’s going to put on us, not only July 5th but tomorrow,” Baldwin added.

The national team in is Group B of the OQT with France and New Zealand, while bracketed in Group A are Canada, Turkey and Senegal. Only the winner of this OQT will earn that lone Olympic berth in the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this August.

As the national team opened its official practice session middle of last month, injuries to Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Greg Slaughter welcomed Baldwin, who is on his second year as coach of Gilas.

Ganuelas-Rosser had surgery on his injured knee, while the 7-foot Slaughter went under the knife to remove bone spurs last week that will sideline the center for the next three months.

Then came another blow as ace guard Paul Lee, fresh from leading Rain or Shine to the Commissioner’s Cup title against Alaska, begged off due to partial tear on his left knee that caused unwarranted fluids.

The injury requires a third PRP or Platelet Rich Plasma procedure for the 6-1 Lee, who will be out for at least two months.

Yesterday, shooting guard Marcio Lassiter skipped practice session because of sickness, so was ROS center Raymond Almazan, a late addition just to give Baldwin additional big man or ‘warm body’ to help the frontline of June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar and naturalized center Andray Blatche improve. (WAYLON P. GALVEZ)