As Gilas Pilipinas departed for Europe, the challenges ahead seemed daunting with a depleted roster. The absence of key players due to injuries has placed additional pressure on the remaining 12-man squad. Nevertheless, the team remained determined to make the most of their training camp and prepare for the upcoming international competitions.
The news of Bobby Ray Parks and Jordan Heading not joining the team came as a blow to Gilas Pilipinas. Both players were still in rehabilitation, with Parks in the Philippines and Heading in the United States. Their absence further weakened the team’s lineup, which had already seen Roger Pogoy and Calvin Oftana opt out due to their ongoing recovery.
Despite the setbacks, a determined group of players departed for Europe. Japeth Aguilar, Chris Newsome, Scottie Thompson, June Mar Fajardo, Jamie Malonzo, Kiefer Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, Poy Erram, AJ Edu, Rhenz Abando, and CJ Perez formed the 12-man roster that would represent Gilas Pilipinas in the tune-up games.
The naturalized players, Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame were expected to join the team in Estonia. However, the absence of Kai Sotto and Jordan Clarkson, who were both in the United States, added to the challenges faced by the squad.
In the lead-up to their departure, the Gilas training camp had intensified its preparations. The team engaged in rigorous workouts, including sprint sessions on the court and weightlifting at the gym. Coach Chot Reyes shared glimpses of their training sessions on social media, showcasing the team’s dedication and commitment.
Although the initial batch of players had arrived at the training camp, including notable names like June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, and Kiefer Ravena, the absence of Clarkson and Sotto was a setback. It was unlikely that they would join the team during the European leg of the training camp.
Gilas Pilipinas had a challenging schedule ahead. The team is set to face Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and possibly Lithuania’s 21-under squad in a series of tune-up matches. These games would provide valuable experience and an opportunity to fine-tune their strategies before the FIBA World Cup.
After their European stint, Gilas Pilipinas had plans to play additional tune-up games in China against Puerto Rico and Senegal. These matches would further test their mettle against strong international opponents.
Despite the obstacles, the determination and resilience of Gilas Pilipinas remained unwavering. The team is focused on building a competitive unit and representing the Philippines with pride on the international stage.
The training camp in Europe would be a crucial step in their journey, allowing them to develop their chemistry, improve their skills, and face formidable opponents. Gilas Pilipinas was ready to embrace the challenges and strive for success in their pursuit of basketball excellence