Staying healthy and focused continues to be the main priority of the Gilas Pilipinas national men’s basketball team.
National head coach Chot Reyes said this after the Korea Basketball Association decided to withdraw the participation of its national squad in the Asian Qualifier for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup which begins Thursday at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.
“Let’s just focus on the things that we can control. Right now, that is our preparation, which is our health, to stay focused mentally, and also emotionally,” said Reyes in an Instagram message to scribes.
The decision of Korea to pull out came on Monday evening on the eve of their 7:30 p.m. departure for Manila on Tuesday, when one more player tested positive for COVID-19, bringing to 10 the total number of players infected.
A few hours after the Koreans announced their withdrawal, RT-PCR tests were done on members of the Gilas pool and all tested negative, according to Reyes.
“So, right now, the best thing that we can do is stay ready, to be prepared. And the only thing we can focus on is our health,” added Reyes.
With Korea out of the picture, host Philippines begins its campaign with a game against India on Friday at 6 p.m., before taking on New Zealand at 7 p.m. on Sunday. New Zealand opens the tournament Thursday as it battles India at 3 p.m.
The Philippines’ clash with Korea is expected to be moved in the third window in June, if Korea does not get sanctioned.
Gilas’ 15-man pool is composed of NorthPort’s Robert Bolick, TNT standouts Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Poy Erram, Kelly Williams, Gab Banal and Kib Montalbo, naturalized big man Angelo Kouame, Japan B. League players Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, and Juan Gomez de Liaño, Overtime Elite signee LeBron Lopez, and Gilas draftees William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab and Tzaddy Rangel.