CEBU - Gilas Pilipinas can finally gauge its progress as a unit as the 12-man lineup for the 2017 Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship plays together for the first time on Sunday night when the national team takes on the Visayas selection in the finale of the All-Star Week.
Originally set to play for the Visayas side, Cebuanos June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo are now reinforcing Gilas 5.0 as it steps up its build-up for its first major tournament.
Gilas assistant coach Jong Uichico confirmed the national team is fielding its SEABA lineup against the Visayas All-Stars.
“Yung game-type situation, first time maglalaro, so at least alam namin kung nasaan na (kami),” Uichico said after having late lunch on Saturday. “After first game, maybe we can assess where we are, what we should work on pa.”
National coach Chot Reyes’ top deputy stressed they have to maximize the All-Star game as he admitted it could also be their last tune-up before the SEABA.
“I don’t know with coach Chot (if there are plans), but this could be our last practice game against other teams,” Uichico said.
Fajardo and Romeo flew in with Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy, and Jio Jalalon along with the PBA All-Star delegation to the Queen City of the South on Saturday afternoon so they could attend the outreach program at Home Care center in Lapu-Lapu City after lunch.
Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi, and Matthew Wright were set to arrive later in the night.
“Team na ‘to eh, so ito na talaga yung twelve, so syempre medyo tataas yung level of play namin supposedly because they’re already the top of the top,” Uichico said.
And the champion coach expects the Visayas All-Stars to also turn it up a notch and provide a worthy tune-up.
“Oo, syempre,” Uichico said.