KAI Sotto and Ricci Rivero will have their first taste of action with the seniors team when Team Philippines takes on Jordan in a tune-up game on Monday.
National coach Yeng Guiao bared that the young bloods will be part of the 13 men he will field for the scrimmage at the Meralco Gym as part of their preparation for the fifth window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
"I guess it's a chance for me to use Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero. We have about 12 to 13 guys already and what I'm trying to do is to make the most use out of the 13 guys that are here and the most use of our time," he said after Wednesday's practice session.
With the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup semifinals yet to end, Guiao will utilize the 13 men that he has for the first of four tuneup games slated for the Philippines next week.
Joining the young pair for the scrimmage are the San Miguel five of June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Arwind Santos, and Christian Standhardinger, together with veterans Gabe Norwood, Jayson Castro, Matthew Wright, Troy Rosario, Beau Belga, and Poy Erram.
Guiao's focus for the first of two games against Jordan will be to see the players' grasp of the system in their short time together, as well as honing their chemistry, which he regards as pivotal for the national team moving forward.
"One of the qualities were looking for is for them to be able to catch on with their high basketball IQ. Wala kaming problema sa conditioning ng mga yan. Alam namin na in shape ang mga yan, pero kailangan lang namin maibalik ang familiarity nila sa sistema playing with the rest of the guys," he said.
"Also, just yung natural chemistry. You will know right away if guys are going to be able to play with each other in a cohesive manner if they will develop chemistry. Malalaman mo na yun, at least instinctively. With 70 to 80-percent of these guys, I know already kasi na-handle ko na sila. So I'm just looking at the 20 to 30-percent in the next few days."
Guiao, though, said that the squad for the other tuneup game against Jordan, slated on Wednesday, is still a toss-up as he expects all 20 men in his pool to be in complete attendance by Monday.
"Yung sa Wednesday, it depends kasi malamang kumpleto na kami ng Monday morning, although it's a shootaround and light practice," said Guiao, who expects players from Magnolia and Ginebra to participate in the practices starting next week.
"But most of those who are absent have played already under me. Greg (Slaughter), although when he wasn't playing last window, he was always in practice even when he was injured. So si LA (Tenorio) na lang ang medyo unfamiliar. Siguro there will be two guys that will try to catch up, but the rest of the guys, I know will be able to catch on in the next few days."
The Philippines will host two games, both at Mall of Asia Arena, in the fifth window, taking on Kazakhstan on November 30 and Iran on December 3.