LEAN as the Gilas Pilipinas Men's national team has been in the first week of its practices for the 2019 Fiba World Cup, it's still better than nothing.
That's why team captain Gabe Norwood isn't really sweating on the handful of players that have showed up in the first two practice sessions, saying that the group has been on this path before.
"I mean, it's not the first time. You know what I mean?" he said. "It's just the nature of the beast that we're in right now. Everybody's in full swing with the PBA schedules, everybody has to take care of our own personal bodies and our minds. So you know, you're going to have days like this where numbers are a little down."
Only nine players were on hand for Thursday's training at Meralco Gym, a slight increase from the eight men who attended Monday's session.
Norwood isn't too concerned, though, saying the practices are more like a refresher course for mainstays of the Guiao-era Gilas team.
"I think it's definitely been a positive to have guys who are familiar with things. It's not a lot of re-teaching, it's just refreshing. So I think everybody's able to get back on the same page. And as long as we're able to come in and the guys who are here are able to execute, the guys who aren't practicing are watching and are able to really process things, I think it's a positive for us," he said.
But that doesn't mean Norwood is totally fine with it as he hopes to have more people onboard soon, especially with the World Cup in China a little less than 10 weeks away.
Guiao has already indicated bringing more players to the pool, especially with key cogs like newly-wed Jayson Castro likely begging off from the China mission to focus on some "personal matters."
"Naturally, as time goes on, you gotta get more bodies ready to get this thing going. You'll see the team better if there are more bodies out here, and really put the system to a test. So we'll see how things go as we progress, but right now, I think everybody's locked in. We are practicing," he said.
"Hopefully, it's a progression, but at the same time, as long as everybody's coming in with the right mindset, really taking care of our bodies. The group is pretty small right now, it's not like we have 20 guys out here and and we can really risk anything, so gotta come out and just maximize our time."