Japeth presence gives Gilas size boost
Gilas Pilipinas’ manpower woes slightly improved on Sunday with Japeth Aguilar joining the camp after spending nearly a week in isolation due to the coronavirus.
Aguilar’s wife Cassandra shared a photo on Twitter around noon showing the high-leaping forward with naturalized player Jordan Clarkson and the rest of the talent pool at Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
It was truly a shot in the arm for Gilas, which looked like it was going to have only 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto and Meralco big man Raymond Almazan as the only players that will man its front line for a pair of Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup Asian Qualifying games this week.
Ian Sangalang, the versatile Magnolia center, has reportedly begged off from national duty to recuperate from the wear-and-tear he sustained during the Hotshots’ bid in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Nationals are scheduled to fly to Beirut, Lebanon, a little past midnight on Tuesday for their duel against Asia Cup runner-up Lebanon, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio told the Inquirer.
The two sides met last July with the Cedars defeating Chot Reyes and his charges with ease, 95-80.
While the trip will require a layover in Doha, Qatar, Gilas will still have a chance to sneak in at least a day’s worth of practice ahead of the clash scheduled on Aug. 25 at Nouhad Naufal Sports Complex, which is some 20 minutes from the city center by car.
Clarkson and Gilas have been training since Friday. The locals, led by a number of standouts from the Philippine Basketball Association and players plying their trade in Japan, have been hard at work since Monday.
And the Utah Jazz star is raring to go.
“We’ll see how it goes. We ready though. Always,” he said in a snippet of his documentary being filmed by his pal Jalin Morgan.
The Philippines is currently 2-2 in the showcase that basketball leaders are using as an evaluation period for the national program.
“It is a developmental phase, but at the same time, you want to win,” Panlilio said earlier this week. “You want to try your very best.”
“We want to win every game we’re playing. Not only for the federation but more for the fans. Everybody loves a winner, right?” he added. INQ
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