GILAS Pilipinas is looking to start practicing on a daily basis by the first week of February in time for its highly-awaited initial showdown against Australia in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
The Filipinos are set to clash with the Boomers on Feb. 22 in Melbourne, making it imperative for the national team to hold daily practices starting on Feb. 5.
“We’re looking at hopefully two to three weeks before the tournament na ibigay na full-time yung mga players sa atin,” said team manager Butch Antonio. “Pero we have to talk to (OIC commissioner Willie) Marcial first.”
Gilas already held its Monday-only practices twice at the Meralco gym.
But the sooner the nationals get together on a daily basis, the better as they will be up against an unfamiliar foe regarded as the team to beat in the new Asia-Oceania region.
“Dapat naman by Feb. 5 mag everyday na kami, di ba? Kapag hindi ewan ko na,” quipped deputy coach coach Jong Uichico, who helped run Gilas practice last Monday along with fellow assistant Josh Reyes in the absence of head coach Chot Reyes.
Gilas will be going to the match at the Margaret Court arena in Melbourne tied with its highly-touted opponent in Group B on 2-0 records. The Filipinos and Aussies are just two of the five remaining undefeated teams so far in the first round besides China, Jordan, and Kazakhstan.
Gilas beat Japan on the road, 77-71, before turning back Chinese Taipei at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, 90-83, while Australia coasted past Chinese (104-66) and Japan in Adelaide (82-58), respectively.
Still, the need to constantly play together remains urgent, according to Antonio.
“Chemistry plays an integral part in developing that winning attitude,” he pointed out. “Kahit na sabihing we’ve been together in different tournaments and different games, it is important for these guys to get together because they have different teams and they come from different styles and plays.”
While they’ve already practiced together the past two Mondays, the entire Gilas pool had yet show up as a complete unit, which Uichico said should be mandatory.
“Once a week na nga lang hindi pa tayo makumpleto. So we prefer really na kumpleto (kami) whether they practice or not, at least nandiyan sila, nanonood kung ano ang nangyayari para mas mabilis yung pagtutok,” said the champion coach.
“At least nakikita nila kahit hindi nila nae-execute. We prefer na nandito sila every Monday.”
Antonio could only say amen to that.
“I will always say preparation is key in any endeavor you undertake, whether it’s in the corporate world or in sports,” said the long-time Gilas manager. “Getting these guys to practice as often as we can is very important.”
After the Australia game, Gilas returns home to host Japan on Feb. 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena.