Crunch time for Gilas | Inquirer Sports

Crunch time for Gilas

PBA Finals, injuries, visa problems and Fiba ban reduce national team to just 10 men for Spain training camp, pocket tourney
/ 05:05 AM August 04, 2019

Gilas Pilipinas’ final practice Saturday at Meralco gym before the team flies to Spain for its training camp. Photo by Denison Dalupang/Inquirer

Gilas Pilipinas is set to leave for Spain on Sunday morning to bolster its training for the Fiba World Cup this August, and it will be taking its personnel woes with it.

The Filipinos will be fielding only 10 members of its talent pool in a string of tuneup games in Guadalajara and a pocket tournament in Madrid, national coach Yeng Guiao told reporters shortly after the team’s practice at Meralco Gym in Ortigas.


“We’re approaching the crunch time, the crucial moments of our preparations,” he said.


Gilas will be missing forward Raymond Almazan, whose visa was denied, guard Kiefer Ravena who is not yet cleared by Fiba to participate in friendly matches, and playmaker Stanley Pringle, who is nursing a minor ankle injury.

The development comes at a time when the talent pool is already missing a handful of players due to the PBA Finals. San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo and TNT’s Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario are all competing in the championship of the Commissioner’s Cup. Marcio Lassiter, who is also a member of the Beermen, is sidelined by a knee injury and is expected to be out for at least five more weeks.

But Guiao, who has been dealing with personnel problems for the longest time, is keeping a positive approach to the dilemma.

“This is an important stage for our preparation. This is a time where we can really focus a hundred percent on what we need to do, on the system that we’re trying to set up,” he said.

Gilas will play a pair of practice games before taking on Congo and either Ivory Coast or host Spain in the pocket tournament. After eight days in Europe, the Filipinos will return here for a couple of more friendlies before they head for the global meet in China later this month.

“Of course, we’ll still be missing Troy, Roger, and June Mar. But this is the best we can do considering the limitations. So we’ll just try to get all the work done to put this team together in the eight days that we’re in Spain,” Guiao added.


Almazan, who just turned 30 on Friday, hoped for the overseas stint as a birthday gift.

“I just actually learned earlier today that I won’t be joining them in the trip,” he said. “I would’ve made good use of the experience and the bonding with my teammates.”

Ravena, who has been shelved for nearly 17 months following a suspension from basketball’s global body, will be flying to Spain with the team but can only join in practices until after the Fiba ban is formally lifted on Aug. 24.

“They sent us a [reply] but it’s inconclusive,” Guiao said of Gilas’ appeal for Ravena to Fiba.  “It looks risky, so we’d rather play it safe.”

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“I won’t be able to play there, but I guess I’ll just be the team’s biggest cheerleader,” Ravena said. “I think at this moment, it’s the little things that would matter the most. That would be my focus for now, even if it’s just carrying bags, helping the ball boys.”

TAGS: Basketball, Fiba World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas, Sports, Yeng Guiao

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