MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine men's national basketball team returned to work this week at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, where they are now preparing for the FIBA Asia Cup.
This, despite the uncertainty surrounding the event that will be hosted by Indonesia from August 17-29.
According to a report by the New York Times, Indonesia has become the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of July 19, there have been over 2.88 million reported cases in the country, with over 73,000 deaths.
The Philippine has also added Indonesia to a travel ban in an effort to keep out the Delta COVID-19 variant. The ban runs from July 16 to July 31.
"We are closely monitoring the situation," assured Ryan Gregorio, special assistant to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio.
"As far as we are concerned, we are preparing as if it is all systems go for us," he stressed.
After a brief break, Gilas Pilipinas is now back at the Inspire facility with coach Tab Baldwin leading the way. Baldwin will still call the shots for the team in the FIBA Asia Cup, after steering them to a sweep of the final window of the qualifiers as well as a solid performance in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Back in the Gilas Pilipinas pool is Thirdy Ravena, who last played for the Philippines in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in February 2020.
Players who missed out in the past two FIBA competitions due to injury are also back in the fold: Allyn Bulanadi, Kemark Carino, Dave Ildefonso, Matt Nieto, Tzaddy Rangel, Rey Suerte, and Jaydee Tungcab.
Meanwhile, the players who suited up for the country in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and the FIBA OQT will make their return as well -- Justine Baltazar, SJ Belangel, Geo Chiu, Isaac Go, Jordan Heading, Ange Kouame, Will Navarro, Mike Nieto, Dwight Ramos, and Carl Tamayo.
Still to be determined is the availability of Kai Sotto.
Aside from Baldwin, also inside the bubble are coaches Sandy Arespachochaga, Jong Uichico, and Boyet Fernandez, as well as conditioning coach Dex Aseron.