Gilas Pilipinas has broken camp as they begin their campaign in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Clark.
The national team left Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna on Sunday morning and arrived at around 3:50PM.
Gilas will bring in 16 players, namely Angelo Kouame, Kai Sotto, Dwight Ramos, Isaac Go, Javi Gomez de Liaño, Justine Baltazar, Mike Nieto, William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Carl Tamayo, Jordan Heading, Lebron Lopez, RJ Abarrientos, Geo Chiu, SJ Belangel, and Tzaddy Rangel.
Five players suffered injuries during the team’s camp in Calamba — namely Matt Nieto, Rey Suerte, Dave Ildefonso, Kemark Cariño, and Jason Credo.
The Asia Cup Qualifiers will then be the team’s baptism of fire. But according to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio, this tournament will be part of the program’s build-up to the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“We’re ready to compete obviously, and the goal has always been an opportunity to win. It really is our specific goal. We’ve been working out for the past nine weeks, the coaching staff and our players in the Inspire bubble,” Gregorio said.
“But we have to understand that this is is a development team. It’s a very young team. We’re hoping that we can get the necessary experience at a very high level, and this is all in preparation for 2023,” he continued.
“So whatever progress that we get from today is actually one step towards our goals to competitive in 2023.”
The coaching staff of the team will be headed by Gilas Men program director and head coach Tab Baldwin.
Serving as assistant coaches are Jong Uichico, Sandy Arespacochaga, Boyet Fernandez, Caloy Garcia, Alton Lister, Sandro Soriano, and trainer Dex Aseron.
According to vaccine czar Vince Dizon, more than half of the team have already received their first dose of vaccines. Meanwhile, the rest have been fully inoculated.
Gilas lead Pool A with a 3-0 slate. It faces South Korea on the 16th and the 20th; then Indonesia on the 17th.