TAIPEI - Ranidel de Ocampo punctuated Gilas Pilipinas practice on Sunday morning with a three-pointer from the deep left corner - a shot he has made more than a hundred times in his international career.
But he won't be able to do it for the game against Chinese-Taipei A later in the day.
De Ocampo, fellow Gilas veteran Jimmy Alapag, JC Intal and Aldrech Ramos will sit out the national team's debut in the Jones Cup under the 12-man rotation prepared by national coach Tab Baldwin and his staff on the eve of the match.
Baldwin said he decided to sit de Ocampo, Alapag and Intal to give them more time to recover from niggling injuries while Ramos is part of the rotation of players that will be held out of games every now and then.
De Ocampo is dealing with a hamstring injury but expects to be back to 100 percent in 'one or two weeks' while Alapag is dealing with a quad injury he sustained prior to the team's trip to Estonia.
De Ocampo's absence means incoming PBA rookies Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario will get significant minutes in the frontline against Chinese-Taipei, especially with naturalized player Andrey Blatche returning to the US on Saturday to attend the funeral of his uncle.
In Alapag's absence, Jayson Castro and Gilas rookie Terrence Romeo are expected to alternate in the playmaking chores against a Taipei side that barely scraped by Japan, 84-82, in their debut on Saturday night.
Baldwin scouted the game Taipei and watched the video all over again later in the night, marvelling at the 'cohesion' of a team that had little changes from the one that beat Gilas in the Fiba Asia championships in Manila in 2013.
Cohesion, Baldwin admitted, is something Gilas is still working on at the moment.
"That’s a team that has been together a long time. That’s something that them and Iran and Korea have (that we don’t) as a unit," said Baldwin after an hour-long morning practice that had Gilas polishing plays and getting familiar with patterns Taipei showed in the game against Japan.
"They play like that. They have cohesion, they understand each other and the system and that’s something we don’t have right now, the continuity,' he added. "We still don’t have that. It takes time to develop that. But we still like our ability to come out, compete, win the game.
"We just have to play hard, win the effort categories cause we probably won’t win the cohesion side of things."
The partisan crowd is the least of Baldwin's concerns, though.
"PBA players, hostile environment is nothing new to them, (they're used to) playing before big crowds, (playing before) people that don’t want them to win. It’s not much of a factor for us."