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Gilas begins prep for Asia Cup

Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes is racing against time as the national team – some members are coming off Jones Cup stint in Taiwan – buckled down to work in preparation for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon next month.

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Two days after announcing his 12-man roster for the Asian Cup, and three days following the arrival of the national team that finished fourth in the Taiwan tourney, Reyes had his first practice session Thursday night at the Upper Deck gym in Pasig City.

Present on the first day were PBA veterans Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo, Terrence Romeo, Gabe Norwood and Japeth Aguilar, as well as rookie ‘cadets’ Matthew Wright, RR Pogoy, Jio Jalalon, and Carl Bryan Cruz.

Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger, who replaced of Andray Blatche as the Philippines’ naturalized player, came in late but was able to participate in the drills.

Alaska’s Calvin Abueva and Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan failed to show up with the former for their game in the PBA Governors’ Cup while Almazan played for Rain or Shine Wednesday night against NLEX.

To complete the needed numbers, Reyes got the other members of the national team in the Jones Cup, including Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks, Raymar Jose, Ed Daquioag, Fonso Gotladera, and Almond Vosotros.

“We have 12 days to practice pero hindi kumpleto,” said Reyes.

“Now the PBA players are going to play for their mother teams, tomorrow we won’t have the Talk ‘N Text guys. On Saturday we won’t have San Miguel and Rain or Shine guys so di kami makukumpleto eh.”

“That’s the tough part with this FIBA Asia. We’re going to go into a tournament, into a war, never kami makukumpleto.

It’s going to be very difficult. But you know these guys… they never quit, they never give up,” he said.

“Hopefully we can spring some surprises come FIBA Asia,” added Reyes as the national team competes in the Asian Cup on Aug. 8-20. They are in Group B with Iran, China and Qatar.

Also present at the first practice session was British coach Tim Lewis, who coached Thailand in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship last May here.

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