Adversity has reared its ugly head yet again
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes’ wish of gathering his troops for two weeks to prepare them for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers from February 22 to 25 seemingly wasn’t granted.
Players from the pool for the upcoming cagefest should have been lent by their mother teams in the PBA starting Monday for the team to have ample time to prepare, but Reyes revealed that the teams will not comply until this week ends.
“They will still all play until Sunday so you can imagine how hard,” lamented the veteran internationalist Monday afternoon, moments after Gilas’ practice session at the West Greenhills Gym in San Juan City.
This revelation by Reyes only confirmed the news relayed by one of Gilas’ players to Tiebreaker Times over the weekend, saying that some teams didn’t lend the cagers to retain them for their 2018 Philippine Cup campaigns.
“Hindi pumayag mga mother teams sa pullout,” said a player, who requested for anonymity.
Another source of stress for Gilas is the possibility of fielding a depleted frontcourt. After scratching out forwards Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan, they might lose another veteran big in Troy Rosario.
The TNT Katropa stalwart is still recovering from his face-first fall last February 7, where he had to be stretchered out of the Mall of Asia Arena. It is still unknown when the 6-foot-7 will be cleared to play again.
Abueva, on the other hand, was in attendance during Monday’s practice. But according to Reyes, it does not guarantee that the Alaska Aces star will return to the lineup due to Rosario’s possible absence.
“He’s here as part of the pool. He’s still part of the pool so he’s just doing his duties as part of the Gilas pool,” said Reyes.
“We have 16, 15, guys and we have some other guys like [Abu] Tratter also in the pool. So it’s hard.
“The PBA players are still going to be playing with their mother teams all throughout this week. So that’s why we’re kind of grappling with that situation now. That’s why it’s very hard to make any decisions,” he added.
But what probably made the outspoken mentor beam for a bit was the presence of naturalized center Andray Blatche, who arrived in the country last Friday — earlier than Reyes and Gilas officials had expected.
“He looks fit but too early to tell,” opined Reyes of the Xinjiang Flying Tigers reinforcement in the CBA. “We didn’t do anything much today. We’re just getting him back to the groove of things.
“It should be a harder practice tomorrow.”
Gilas will have a full week of practices before they fly to Australia on the 18th. From there, they will have three days to get accustomed to the land Down Under before facing the 10th-ranked team Boomers on February 22.