MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine men's national team will be back in action on July 25 when they compete in the King Abdullah Cup in Jordan.
The tournament, which runs until August 3, will help Gilas Pilipinas prepare for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021.
The competition will be hosted by the Jordan Basketball Federation as they are also looking to prepare for the competitions in Indonesia.
Aside from Jordan and the Philippines, three other countries have also committed to participate: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Tunisia.
Gilas Pilipinas Men will once again be led by program director and head coach Tab Baldwin with Jong Uichico, Boyet Fernandez, Sandy Arespacochaga, and Sandro Soriano assisting him.
The team is currently at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna for another training camp.
"Entering the bubble is forced on all of us since we are heading to Jordan on the 23rd. It's the long-term vision of the program that we have to look at here. We have to take advantage of every minute of games that we can get," said Baldwin.
"We'll be going up against quality teams with different styles compared to the ones we faced in the Asia Cup qualifiers," he added.
Retained from the team that saw action in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia are RJ Abarrientos, Justine Baltazar, SJ Belangel, Geo Chiu, Isaac Go, Jordan Heading, Ange Kouame, William Navarro, Mike Nieto, Carl Tamayo, and Dwight Ramos.
Rejoining the pool from the injured list are Dave Ildefonso and 2019 Gilas Special Draftees Matt Nieto, Allyn Bulanadi, and Rey Suerte. Thirdy Ravena is also in the pool with Kenmark Carino, Jaydee Tungcab, and Tzaddy Rangel.
The Gilas Pilipinas pool is nearing full strength, with almost everyone having recovered from injuries.
"Will and Carl are recovering from their respective injuries but should be cleared within the week. Dwight, on the other hand, has fully recovered," said Baldwin.
Only 15 of the 19 players in the pool will travel with the team to Jordan.
"The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas wanted the team to get more games so we looked for the best possible option and decided that Jordan will be a great destination," said SBP special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio.
"Jordan has always been one of the better teams in Asia so going up against them should be beneficial for our young squad. We’re also looking forward to going up against Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Tunisia," he added.
Saudi Arabia will use the tournament to prepare for the final round of qualifiers for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 as three more spots are up for grabs with Chinese Taipei, Guam, India, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia still in the running.
"The pandemic has made it very difficult to plan tune-up games so when the SBP found out about this possibility, we jumped on it as we know every game played will be helpful towards our goal of building a competitive team not just for the FIBA Asia Cup but for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023," added Gregorio. "We have full confidence that Gilas will take this opportunity to learn and jell as a unit."
Discussions about Kai Sotto’s availability for the King Abdullah Cup and the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 are currently ongoing between his management team and the SBP.
The FIBA Asia Cup will be held from August 17 to 29 in Jakarta, Indonesia.