Gilas open training camp

Gilas Pilipinas takes the first step to redemption as it formally opens its training camp in preparation for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

A handful of young stars and some Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) standouts are expected to show up in a closed-door session at 7 p.m. at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City that will be supervised by Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes.

Reyes is facing a tall of order of pumping life into the flickering program.

After suffering embarrassing losses in the third window of the Asian qualifiers, FIBA Asia Cup and the 31st Southeast Asian Games, some quarters were calling for his ouster, dealing a massive distraction to the program that is entering the final stretch of its World Cup preparation.

Still, Reyes stays defiant.

He fired back at his bashers by assembling arguably the best Gilas squad in history.

National Basketball Association (NBA) standout Jordan Clarkson expressed his commitment to play even as a naturalized player while Kai Sotto agreed to take a break from his stint in the National Basketball League in Australia just to patrol the paint for the embattled Gilas.

Clarkson will be arriving on Thursday while Sotto will be in town a day earlier.

But with or without the two marquee players, Gilas will open its camp in a bid to develop chemistry, cohesiveness and camaraderie in preparation for their game against Lebanon in Beirut on 25 August and Saudi Arabia in Pasay City on 29 August.

Expected to show up in the first day of training are Gilas stalwarts Dwight Ramos, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks, who are all enjoying their respective breaks from a grueling campaign in the Japanese B.League.

Also tipped to be in attendance are young guns Carl Tamayo, LeBron Lopez and Kevin Quiambao.

“We will open the training camp on Monday, 7 p.m. at the Meralco Gym,” Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) spokesman Sonny Barrios said in a short message to Daily Tribune.

“But it’s going to be closed-door training.”

Aside from the Gilas mainstays, expected to join are some PBA stars like reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Calvin Oftana of NLEX and Jamie Malonzo of NorthPort.

Filipino-Americans Chris Newsome of Meralco, Roosevelt Adams of Terrafirma and Maverick Ahanmisi of Converge were also cleared by the International Basketball Federation to play as locals, raising speculations that they will also be part of the pool.

The SBP said it will unveil the complete list of Gilas pool members right after the ongoing Philippine Cup in which four teams in TNT Tropang Giga, Magnolia, San Miguel Beer and Meralco are clashing for the crown.

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