AN 11-man Gilas Pilipinas team leaves for Spain early on Sunday morning for a 10-day training camp in preparation for the Fiba World Cup in China.
Naturalized player Andray Blatche and veteran Gabe Norwood lead the team that will be without eight of the other members included by coach Yeng Guiao in the Gilas pool submitted to the Fiba.
Others leaving with Blatche and Norwood are Mark Barroca, CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, Paul Lee, Poy Erram, Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, Beau Belga and Kiefer Ravena.
Raymond Almazan would have been the 12th player for the team, but he was not able to secure a Spanish visa along with assistant coach Ford Arao.
"This is the best we can do sa limitations ng schedule ng PBA. We’ll just try to get all the work done to put this team together in the eighth days that were in Spain," said coach Guiao.
Among those staying are June Mar Fajardo, Christian Standhardinger, Marcio Lassiter, Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy and Stanley Pringle.
Fajardo, Standhardinger, Lassiter (injured), Rosario, and Pogoy won't be able to join the team due to the finals of the PBA Commissioner's Cup, while Pringle is nursing an an ankle sprain after a grueling playoffs series against Magnolia and TnT Katropa.
Lassiter did show up though, in the team’s final practice on Saturday at the Meralco gym
Jordan Clarkson is the 19th player listed by Guiao as part of the Gilas pool.
"This is an important stage for our preparation, This is the time where we can really focus 100 percent on what we need to do on the system that we’re trying to set up," said Guiao.
The team leaves for Spain at 7:40 a.m. Sunday. It will first take a nine hour flight to Dubai and then get a connecting seven-hour flight to Madrid.
The national team will then travel to Guadalajara to play Congo and Ivory Coast in back-to-back tune-up matches.
From there, the Filipinos head to Malaga for a four-team pocket tournament. They face Congo anew, but with the winner facing the victorious team in the game between Spain and Ivory Coast.