MANILA, Philippines - With the PBA Governors Cup Final Four over, Gilas Pilipinas returns to practice today, kicking off its brief preparation for the fifth FIBA Asia Cup set July 11-19 in Wuhan, China.
However, San Mig Coffee’s Marc Pingris and Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga and Paul Lee have all been excused since they would still be playing in the Governors Cup finals.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes, however, remains hopeful he can field Lee, in particular, in the Wuhan joust, saying he wants to see how the Rain or Shine guard performs in international play.
“If it’s okay with him, I want him in the lineup even if he’s coming from the PBA finals,” said Reyes of Lee, the only member of the new Gilas pool without an international exposure.
“He has the tools but it’s hard to say because it’s not just the game that is an issue here. I want to see how he responds playing day after day after day, responds on the pace of our game and reacts on international play. It’s a lot different,” Reyes pointed out.
Lee, Jared Dillinger and new naturalized player Andray Blatche are the new additions to the Gilas pool bound for the FIBA World Cup in Spain in August then the Asian Games in Incheon, Korea in September.
Blatche is out of the FIBA Asia Cup, though, as his naturalization approval didn’t beat the deadline for submission of lineup for the Wuhan tourney.
Many expect it to be Marcus Douthit’s last tournament with Gilas, but Reyes insists it’s hard to say.
“It’s unfair to him, and you’ll never know,” said Reyes, obviously not discounting an injury that may hit Blatche before the world meet.
The FIBA Asia Cup serves as Gilas Pilipinas’ warmup tourney for the World Cup.
Team Phl plays Jordan, Singapore, Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan in a one-round-robin in their group with the top two advancing to the cross-over semifinals versus the top two in Group A among China, India, Indonesia, Iran and Japan.
Gilas Pilipinas steps up its World Cup buildup in August, pitching training camp in Miami, Florida before touring Italy and France for a series of tuneup matches.
On Aug. 15-17, Team Phl plays France, Australia and Ukraine in mini-invitational tourneys in Antibes, France.
In the final stretch of their buildup, the Nationals take on Team Euskadi, the Angolans, the Dominican Republic team and the Egyptians before proceeding to Seville, Spain for the tournament proper.