Uichico says Gilas mentally ready as bubble grind picks up
MANILA, Philippines—Gilas Pilipinas head coach Jong Uichico said the team’s preparations inside the bubble for the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifying window next month are starting to pick up.
The first batch of players, composed mostly of amateurs, led by captain Kiefer Ravena entered the training bubble in Calamba, Laguna last Sunday while additional pro reinforcement in CJ Perez and Justin Chua are set to join the team.
For the first few days, Uichico and his crew focused on the fundamentals.
“It’s only the first few days so we’re trying to get in shape, review the things we did last window and whatever changes we have to make,” said Uichico on Friday. “We’re trying to get in shape, getting our skills work done, and review the fundamentals.”
Uichico said that having Ravena and the 6-foot-10 Kouame, a candidate for naturalization, in the mix has certainly added depth to Gilas’ practices.
Ravena brings savvy experience while Kouame poses a new dimension with his size alone, coupled with his agility and natural awareness for the game.
“Kiefer is our senior so the kids listen to him, and we don’t have any problem with his work ethic,” said Uichico in Filipino. “All the players look up to him. In terms of practice ethics and Kiefer’s mental aptitude of the game of basketball, I’m sure that the players will learn from that.”
“Having Ange is a big deal for us because now we get to play with a seven footer. Actually he’s already immersed with the system and the principles of coach Tab. Then now, whatever we’re putting in he’s learning fast.”
Uichico, who also called the shots in the November window, said their experience in Bahrain is still one of their biggest assets as a team.
He added that his players are also mentally ready to handle the demands of being away from their homes and loved ones for an extended period.
After spending nearly a month in Calamba, Uichico and his group will then travel to Clark for the competition itself, which is also going to be in a self-contained bubble.
“They’ve already experienced international games outside of the country, so it’s a good experience for them that they can bring to the next bubbles. The young ones are already tested,” said Uichico.
“Mentally they know that they will stay here for more than a month then go to Clark. In fact they’re actually excited because they’re excited of the preparation, and they’re excited to represent the Philippines again as part of Gilas in a fiba competition.”
Gilas Pilipinas is scheduled to play South Korea twice and Indonesia once in the Clark tournament. The Filipinos currently lead Group A with a 3-0 record.
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