Members of the Gilas Pilipinas national men’s basketball will be a healthy group of individuals when they compete in the second window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this week at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Players who are in the best of shapes will be put in the roster, with national coach Chot Reyes making this assurance before going into a series of practice sessions starting last Saturday.
“We are going to see in the next few days how the health of the players are. We don’t want any kind of restrictions on ourselves. We want to keep our options open,” said Reyes.
Reyes revealed that most of the young players are not in game shape since they last saw action in Jordan. Those who played in the B.League like Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos are fit for action.
Gilas is evaluating its 22-man pool and checking the status of Roger Pogoy, a point guard of TNT Tropang Giga, who has missed TNT’s last four games in the PBA Governors’ Cup resumption because of a left calf injury.
“We will find out in the next couple of days who are in the best shape to play four games in three days. The next five days will be our final ramping up of preparations,” added Reyes.
Team Philippines starts its Asian Qualifiers campaign against visiting Korea on February 24.
The Koreans’ COVID-19 woes have continued as Kang Sang Jae became the ninth player from their 24-man pool to test positive for the virus and will no longer be available to join the national squad being assembled for their Manila trip. Four more players have symptoms of the virus, while another one is injured, leaving the team with only 10 able bodies.
The 6’8” Kang, a power forward, is a three-point specialist of the Wonju DB Promy team in the Korean Basketball League. He was part of the Korean squad that bagged the bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Games.
The remaining healthy players of the Korean national squad is emerging from quarantine in Goyang and will test their game fitness with a tuneup match against Korea University.
The coaching staff headed by Cho Sang Yun is set to name Moon Jung Hyun, Park Moo-Bin and Lee Doo Won as possible replacements players.
The Koreans will miss the likes of naturalized player Ra Gun-Ah, Kim Jong Kyu, Kim Sun-hyung and Yang Hong Seok.
Also gone from the list are Heo Ung, Doo Kyung-Min, Byun JunHyeong, Lee Jaedo, Lee Jung Hyun, Yang Hong Seok, Ahn Young Jun, Lee Kwan Hee, Lee Seung Hyun, Yeo Jun Seok, Jang Jae Seok and Lee Won Seok.
Fans are watching out for the rivalry between Korea and the Philippines, with Gilas having the upperhand this time, having beaten the Koreans twice in the Asia Cup Qualifiers in two close games last year.