Oftana, Malonzo on board as Gilas starts practice

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 16 2022 09:40 AM | Updated as of Aug 16 2022 02:05 PM

NLEX's Calvin Oftana and NorthPort's Jamie Malonzo were among the players who joined Gilas Pilipinas practice on Monday night. PBA Images.
NLEX's Calvin Oftana and NorthPort's Jamie Malonzo were among the players who joined Gilas Pilipinas practice on Monday night. PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines -- Gilas Pilipinas welcomed some new faces in their first practice for the upcoming window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Monday night at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

Overseeing the closed-doors practice was head coach Chot Reyes, together with his coaching staff -- Ginebra coach Tim Cone and Gilas assistant coach Josh Reyes.

Holdovers from their recent campaigns were present: Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks Jr., Francis Lopez, and Carl Tamayo. 

Making his first appearance was NorthPort forward Jamie Malonzo, who was recently cleared to play for the Philippines as a local. NLEX's Kevin Alas and Calvin Oftana were also presented; both have played for previous iterations of the national team.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Sonny Barrios dropped by practice and assured the players of the whole basketball community's support and prayers.

Several more players, especially from the pros, are expected to show up in practice as Gilas Pilipinas buckles down in preparation for two qualifiers highlighting the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup set Aug. 25 to Sept. 10 next year.

Among the PBA players set to join are the Magnolia pair of Jio Jalalon and Ian Sangalang. 

Bannering the national team for the fourth window are NBA star Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz and 7-foot NBA hopeful Kai Sotto. 

The Philippine team flies to Beirut to take on 2022 FIBA Asia Cup silver medalist Lebanon on Aug. 25 and then returns home to host Saudi Arabia at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Aug. 29.

The first day of practice covered shooting drills with several variations and fast ball movement, with Cone, a two-time Grand Slam champion coach in the PBA, providing inputs.