GILAS Pilipinas starts going full speed in its training for the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship on May 1 when the official roster for the meet, including naturalized player Andray Blacthe, converge on a daily basis at the Meralco gym.
National coach Chot Reyes said he expects all players to be on board by that time, less than two weeks before the May 12-18 meet in Manila that serves as qualifier for the Fiba Asia Cup.
Reyes would also have the final roster for the tournament during that time as he plans to announce the 12-man lineup on April 28, shortly after the Lucena leg of the PBA All-Star week.
“May 1 we go full speed away with our preparation,” said Reyes on Tuesday during the official launching of the week-long tournament to be held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Gilas coach said the rest of the pool members who will not be named to the team are still welcome to attend the practice.
"I don't see any problem if they are there, they are always welcome to watch and observe," said Reyes. "But the concentration definitely will be on the Final 12."
He added Blatche is definitely seeded to make the official roster, whose final date of submission is on April 29.
"Of course it depends sa kanya," said Reyes of the 6-foot-10 former NBA player. "He's already committed but may mga minor things pa na inaayos."
Longtime Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, who was also present during the media launch held at Bar One, Level 3 Holiday Inn at Robinson's Galleria in Ortigas Center, said he's in touch already with the handlers of Blatche, who could be coming over by the final week of the month at the latest.
Joining Reyes and Antonio in the event were Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, PH U16 coach Mike Oliver, and Gilas players Calvin Abueva, Kevin Ferrer, and Raymund Almazan.
Other than Blatche, no player is assured yet of making the official roster.
"Very honestly and sincerely speaking, we don't have a Final 12 as of now," Reyes said, "Our minds are very open, we're evaluating every practice, we will evaluate how they will play in the All-Star series, and we will also be evalauting the other things, the intangibles, and all the other stuffs."
Members of the 24-man Gilas training pool will be participating in the three-leg PBA All-Star week to be held in Cagayan de Oro (April 26), Lucena (April 28), and Cebu (April 30).
Gilas plays its first game on May 12 against Myanmar, followed by Singapore on the 13th, and Malaysia on the 14th.
The team takes a break on the 15th before it caps its campaign by taking on Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia in the final three days of the tournament.
The country with the best record after the single-round event will be declared champion.
The SBP and the organizers of the meet also took time to launch the official logo.