THE Gilas Pilipinas pool preparing for the final qualifier of the FIBA Asia Cup remains clueless on when training will resume even after the announcement of the country's hosting of three of the five groups from June 16 to 20.
Gilas coach Jong Uichico said the training pool composed of college players and special PBA draftees are currently on standby awaiting orders from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Although quarantine protocols in NCR Plus has been downgraded to a Modified Enhance Community Quarantine (MECQ) starting Monday, group practices and training are still prohibited by the government as per the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) crafted by the Games and Amusement Board (GAB), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and the Department of Health (DoH).
“On when we will come back, hindi pa namin alam kung kailan,” said Uichico. “Sumusunod lang naman tayo sa agos. Wait-and-see lang kami. Handa-handa lang.”
The national team broke camp at the Inspire Sports Academy bubble in Laguna two weeks ago when the government imposed an Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ) in all of Metro Manila and the adjoining provinces of Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan, and Cavite following a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Gilas was already in its third week of training when the SBP decided to shut down the bubble.
But three days ago, FIBA Asia officially announced the Philippines and Jordan as two of the countries that will be hosting the final qualifier for the Asia Cup involving five groups.
Clark will be hosting Group A (Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia), Group B (China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Malaysia), and Group C (Australia, New Zealand, Guam, Hong Kong).
Amman meanwhile, will be the site of competitions for Group E (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar), and Group F (Kazakhstan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Jordan) from June 12 to 14.
The Philippines was previously set to host the same meet last February also in Clark, but begged off at the last minute following the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The qualifier is one of the tournaments Gilas Pilipinas is preparing for, along with another qualifying meet for the Tokyo Olympics to be held in Serbia from June 29 to July 4, necessitating the bubble training in Laguna starting March 15.
Unfortunately, the camp had to be called off.
“Three weeks into training na kami. OK naman, sanay na. Pangatlong bubble na ito, so parang routine na. Alam mo na kung ano ang gagawin mo, automatic na yun,” said Uichico.
“Pero siyempre mahirap pa rin kasi talagang isolated kayo from the outside world. Ang maganda lang talagang nagagawa mo yung trabaho mo.”
The Gilas coach had mixed emotions about the decision to break camp since training was already going efficiently, though he understood the health and safety of everybody remain the priority.
“Kasi ang ganda na ng pina-practice namin, umuusad na yung proseso ng practice,” Uichico said. “Pero kami naman sumusunod lang, kung sabihin na bawal mag practice, tama rin naman. Sumusunod lang din naman kami.”