The arrival of Gilas players seeing action in the Japan B. League is expected to provide additional manpower to the national training team preparing for the fifth window of the FIBA Asia World Cup Asian Qualifiers even as the workouts intensify starting next week.
Beginning Oct. 28, players like Dwight Ramos, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, and Ray Parks will be released by their respective teams in the B. League to join Gilas Pilipinas.
As soon as these players arrive, national coach Chot Reyes will start daily workouts for the training team gearing up for away games on Nov. 10 and 13 in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, respectively.
The exact date of their arrival hasn’t been pegged yet, however.
“Hindi ako sure. We don’t know the arrival yet of our B.League players,” said Reyes. “We’re planning, hopefully three days – October 31, November 1 and 2, but we’re not sure.”
The PBA is scheduled for a long break, playing its last game of the month on Oct. 30 and returning on Nov. 4. It’s a period Gilas can use to train daily before the team leaves on Nov. 7.
Aside from the B. League players, Gilas Pilipinas is looking to bring in naturalized player Ange Kouame while still trying to find ways to get 7-foot-3 center Kai Sotto on board for the fifth window.
In the previous window, Sotto, who returned to play for his mother team Adelaide 36ers in National Basketball League Australia, teamed up with NBA star Jordan Clarkson when the Philippines played its away game against Lebanon last Aug. 26 and its home game on Aug. 29.
“FIBA has a directive to all the leagues around the world that players cannot be prevented from playing for their national teams. Hopefully, we can get Kai (Sotto). Just like in Japan, we know that on a certain date, I think until the 28th of this month, and then Dwight Ramos, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks, they’ll be available by then and we’re hoping the same for Kai,” said Reyes.
On Monday, Gilas Pilipinas resumed its training with 10 players participating in the weekly session.
In attendance were Chris Newsome of Meralco, who returned after being sidelined for several weeks because of contusion on his calf, and other PBA stars like reigning MVP Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar and Jamie Malonzo of Barangay Ginebra, Roger Pogoy, Calvin Oftana and Poy Erram of TNT, and Arvin Tolentino of NorthPort. Also in the training session were collegiate players Kevin Quiambao of La Salle and Francis Lopez of Ateneo.
Naturalized player candidate Justin Brownlee, the Barangay Ginebra import, has been under the weather and was advised to rest, while Ange Kouame, the current naturalized player, had school commitments.