MANILA (UPDATED) - The Philippine national basketball team will head back to the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna for another training camp on Monday.
Ryan Gregorio of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) confirmed the development to ABS-CBN News.
The squad will be led by the full-time Gilas Pilipinas players that the SBP selected from the 2019 and 2021 PBA Rookie Drafts.
These are: Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, and Rey Suerte from the 2019 batch; and William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Jordan Heading, and Tzaddy Rangel from the 2021 class.
Several amateurs are also expected to join the camp, including Dwight Ramos, Justine Baltazar, Javi Gomez de Liano, and Dave Ildefonso, all of whom suited up for Gilas Pilipinas when it competed in the third FIBA Asia Cup qualifying window in Bahrain last November. Ramos will join the team upon his arrival from the United States.
Ateneo center Ange Kouame, who is on the brink of naturalization, is also set to attend. Also invited back are amateurs SJ Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, Carl Tamayo, Jason Credo, Geo Chiu, and Lebron Lopez.
Gilas Pilipinas had already set up camp at the Inspire facility in January in preparation for the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, but the team exited after the postponement of the tournament. Another camp was set up in March, this time with the SBP inviting several young players as well as the new draftees. This too was broken up in late March when the government imposed stricter quarantine rules on NCR Plus.
"The SBP heeded the instructions of the Philippine Sports Commission when they asked all national athletes to halt their training during the Enhanced Community Quarantine. When the IATF announced that they will be lifting those limitations, we immediately worked on getting the team back together," said SBP president Al Panlilio, Sunday.
"Of course there were protocols that we had to complete including the testing for all the members of the pool but the team's ready to go back to work," he added.
Gilas Pilipinas is preparing for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers that will be held on June 16 to 20 in Clark, Pampanga, as well as the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia from June 29 to July 4.
Spearheading the camp are: Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin, coaches Jong Uichico, Sandy Arespacochaga, Boyet Fernandez, Caloy Garcia, Alton Lister, Sandro Soriano, and trainer Dex Aseron.
"We appreciate everyone's eagerness to rejoin the bubble and we're hopeful that the team will get to pick up where they left things off before they broke camp," said Panlilio.
"The FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the OQT are fast approaching and, although the postponements have been tough on everyone, we remain confident that this training pool will put in the work necessary to perform at their best."
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