With less than two months left, Gilas Pilipinas management has scheduled a compact training camp in Europe for the national team in preparation for the Manila leg of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) set July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
The national team already kicked off its practice session last week, and that will continue in the remaining days of this month before going full throttle in June with a series of friendship games here and abroad.
The Tab Baldwin-mentored Gilas will face Iran in a pair of tune up games, first a closed-door match on June 7 and then followed by an open workout on June 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“The games against Iran are important because it will set the tone for our preparation playing international basketball,” said Gilas manager Butch Antonio, who is also the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) deputy director for international affairs.
The games with the former Asian powerhouse will be the first since the Filipinos defeated the Iranians in the second round of the FIBA Asia Championship (87-73) in Changsha, China.
After the games against Iran, Gilas will leave for Greece in June 10.
According to Baldwin, the Nationals will hold training camp “in the mountains” before going straight to the same training center where the Greek national team is training – a town called Karpenisi.
On June 20, the national team departs for Greece before heading to Istanbul, Turkey where they are set to play the Turkish national team the following day, June 21. On June 23, Baldwin and his wards will fly to Bologna, Italy.
Gilas will play in a pocket tournament in Italy against the Italians, Canada and China then will fly back to Manila on June 27. Canada and Turkey will play in the OQT here.
The training session of Gilas Pilipinas resumes Tuesday and Baldwin expects all players in the training pool, including the four who recently played in the Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup – Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee, Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood, and Alaska’s Calvin Abueva.
The national team pool is already without injured players Matt Ganuelas Rosser (knee) and Greg Slaughter (ankle), and Baldwin has expressed not to add players to list of candidates.
Naturalized players Andray Blatche is expected to arrive May 27 after his initial arrival was moved to attend to be with he mother, who reportedly had surgery last week. The 6-11 Blatche recently played in China.