Gilas to miss almost half of 19-man pool for Spain camp

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas won't be at full strength when it flies to Spain for a brief training camp as it will miss several key players for a variety of reasons. 

Only 11 players out of the 19-man pool will join the trip where the national men's basketball team will play Ivory Coast and Congo in practice games and compete in a pocket tournament with a chance to face Spain. 

Andray Blatche, Kiefer Ravena, Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, Mark Barroca, Paul Lee, Poy Erram, Matthew Wright, Robert Bolick, CJ Perez, and Beau Belga will travel to Spain on Sunday, August 4, together with coach Yeng Guiao and his staff.

The Filipinos will be there until August 12 before they return home to iron out their final preparations for the FIBA World Cup, which will be staged in multiple cities in China starting August 31. 

Gilas will miss the services of national team mainstays June Mar Fajardo, Christian Standhardinger, Marcio Lassiter, Roger Pogoy, and Troy Rosario as San Miguel and TNT tangle in the finals of the PBA Commissioner's Cup.

While their respective PBA teams had been both eliminated, Raymond Almazan and Stanley Pringle will also not see action in Spain.

Almazan had his visa application denied, while Pringle – according to Guiao – has a slight ankle injury. 

Guiao also expressed doubt that Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson, who was included in the pool as backup for Blatche, will make an appearance in Spain. 

On the other hand, Ravena will not be suiting up in any of the games as he continues to serve his FIBA-imposed suspension, which will end exactly a week before the global hoops showdown kicks off. 

"We don't want to risk it but we'll see what happens. If there's word from the FIBA that we can play, of course we'll play him," Guiao said. 

Despite the challenges the national team is facing in its buildup for the World Cup, Guiao said they just have to adjust with what the schedule permits. 

"This is an important stage for our preparation. This is a time where we can really focus 100% on what we need to do, on the system that we're trying to set up," he said. 

"There's also really good competition there so we'll be able to measure ourselves if we're ready."

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.