Gilas Pilipinas can finally resume its practice session on Monday after it got clearance from the PBA Commissioner’s Office in preparation for the next window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers for Asia.
The announcement came from no less than national team mentor Chot Reyes by posting the names of players whom he expects to see on the first day of resumption of practice session.
“Just got clearance from PBA OIC Willie Marcial for Gilas to start its Monday only practices in Jan. 8, 8pm,” Reyes posted on his Twitter @coachot late Thursday after meeting with SBP Chairman Emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan, SBP president Al Panlilio and PBA chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT KaTropa.
“Back to work Blur, Kief, Kev, Jio, Pogs, Matt, Allein, Gabe, Calvin, CBC, Mac, Troy, Rakentol, Japet, JMF,” added Reyes.
The players Reyes were referring to are reigning four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel, TNT’s Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, Alaska’s Calvin Abueva and Carl Bryan Cruz, Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas of NLEX.
The others are Blackwater’s Allein Maliksi and Ma Belo, Gabe Norwood and Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine, Phoenix Fuel’s Matthew Wright, Jio Jalalon of Star and Japeth Aguilar of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
The other day, the Bulletin reported – based on a text message by Reyes – that resumption of practice session is still being discussed between the SBP and the PBA, since majority of the national team comes from the pro league.
The only exception is naturalized player Andray Blatche, who plays in China for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, and Fil-German Christian Standhardiger of ABL’s Hong Kong Eastern.
Marcial said that PBA players are always available for the national team, saying: “Team owners and governors are always supportive when it comes to Gilas, and it’s a go for them as they start training again.”
There’s no word yet on when the 6-foot-11 Blatche will fly in but Gilas management hopes it would be earlier than last October when he arrived a few days before the squad flew to Japan at the start of the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup next year in China.
Gilas won against Japan, 77-71, and Taiwan, 90-83, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, although Reyes expects things to be a lot tougher as the Philippines battle Australia on Feb. 22 in Adelaide, and hosts Japan on Feb. 25 possibly at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.