Kiefer Ravena rejoins Gilas practice, Kai Sotto and Japeth Aguilar likely to miss national team duties5 min read
Gilas Pilipinas’ practice attendance saw a boost on Monday night, February 13, as the team resumed its weekly preparation for the upcoming sixth and final window of the Fiba World Cup Qualifiers.
The event, which will be hosted by the Philippines, is set to take place on February 24 and 27 at the Philippine Arena.
Kiefer Ravena was among the 11 players who showed up for the fourth Monday night training session at the Meralco gym in Pasig City.
College standouts Kevin Quiambao and Jerom Lastimosa also returned to practice after a stint with the Strong Group at the Dubai International Basketball Championship.
Several PBA stars were also present, including June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Jamie Malonzo, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, Raymond Almazan, and Arvin Tolentino.
Mason Amos, a college player, rounded out the group supervised by Gilas’ head coach Chot Reyes and assistant coaches Tim Cone and Jong Uichico.
Notably absent from the Monday night practice were naturalized player Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Roger Pogoy, Carl Tamayo, and Schonny Winston, who had attended last week’s session.
The team is still waiting for the arrival of Ravena’s fellow Japan B.League imports Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, Jordan Heading, and Kai Sotto.
Meanwhile, a Kai Sotto camp insider bared that he will not play for Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The 7-foot-3, according to a source from Sotto’s camp, recently arrived in the Philippines from the NBL in Australia for a brief break, but will leave for Japan before the games against Lebanon and Jordan even start.
Gilas Pilipinas is hoping for the participation of towering center, Kai Sotto, as the national team faces a height disadvantage in the absence of veteran forward Japeth Aguilar who suffered an MCL injury.
Despite the team’s need for his size, Sotto’s camp has made it clear that his health is the top priority, and financial considerations will not sway their decision.
Under the guidance of his sports agency, Wasserman, Sotto will head to Japan and then the US, where he will participate in mini-camps and play in the Summer League.
The source stressed that the decision to keep Sotto off the court is out of an abundance of caution, not because of money.
While the Philippines has already qualified for the World Cup, Sotto’s representatives believe it is wise to keep their prized player safe.
Despite not being able to play for Gilas this time, Sotto’s dedication to his country and selfless actions in the past have earned him the understanding and support of fans.
Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone, for his part, said Japeth Aguilar is unlikely to be available for Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming FIBA World Cup Asian qualifying window.
The veteran forward is still recovering from a knee sprain and is in the early stages of rehabilitation.
Cone stated that Aguilar won’t be playing in their next game against San Miguel Beer and that his availability is up to the doctors.
Currently, Aguilar’s knee is immobilized, and he’s not even in the stage of strengthening yet.
Aguilar is part of Gilas Pilipinas’ 24-man roster for the final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, but Coach Cone believes that he has less than a 50 percent chance of playing in the upcoming games against Lebanon and Jordan.
Coach Chot Reyes, who is also part of the national team’s coaching staff, will have to make a decision on Aguilar’s participation in the window.
It’s a major setback for Gilas Pilipinas, which is likely to miss the contributions of Sotto.
Coach Cone expressed concern for Aguilar’s well-being and wants to ensure he’s fully healed before returning to the lineup.