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Give us time to prepare – Chot

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes has one big wish – they will be given enough time to prepare and conduct a training camp ahead of the FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament starting in November.

That was what the national team lacked as Reyes formed the squad two weeks before the Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon.

The result was disappointing as the country failed to make it to the medal round, and eventually finished seventh out of 16 nations.

“Hopefully we can conduct a proper training camp,” said Reyes yesterday in a homecoming press conference for the national team that won the gold medal in Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games.

A training camp allows the players selected to the national team to develop chemistry since they play three times a day for at least two weeks, as well as dine and travel together abroad.

That set up worked for Gilas as Reyes steered the national team to a second place finish – a silver medal – in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship here, which earned the country a spot in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

The national team had similar training camp experiences before that World Cup, 2015 FIBA Asia in Changsha, China and Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) here last year.

Reyes has a 24-man training pool, and majority of it are PBA players.

That is why Gilas Pilipinas – through the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) – has an existing memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the pro league in forming the national team in elite tournaments like the home-and-away FIBA Asia qualifying tournament.

The ongoing PBA Governors’ Cup is expected to end late October, and Reyes said this would give the national team – if he gets the players he selects for Gilas – ample time to prepare for the next event.

According to Reyes, they are constantly communicating with PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa.

A meeting is also scheduled with Gilas management with the top SBP officials, including its president Al Panlilio and chairman Sen. Sonny Angara, and patron Manny V. Pangilinan – former president and current chairman emeritus of the basketball federation.

“We’ll continue to tweak the program and improve it. Yes, a MOA is in place with SBP and PBA, but there are lots of challenges. It’s not a finished product but a work in progress,” said Reyes.

“The next step is identifying a concrete training window for the national team,” Reyes said.

The national team is in Group B of the Asian home-and-away qualifiers with reigning Asia Cup champion Australia, Chinese Taipei and Japan. Gilas will first face the Japanese in Tokyo on Nov. 24, and then returns home to host the Taiwanese on Nov. 27.

Gilas collides against the Aussies in their home soil on Feb. 22, then hosts the Japanese five days later (Feb. 27). On June 26, the Philippines visit Taipei, then meets Australia here on July 2.

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