GILAS Pilipinas 5.0 officially got the ball rolling with its first Monday practice at the Meralco gym.
Calvin Abueva and June Mar Fajardo led the Gilas veterans who showed up for the two-hour training along with Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, and Japeth Aguilar.
Fajardo and Aguilar though, were not in playing uniform and just watched the action from the sidelines, weeks after figuring in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals between Ginebra and San Miguel Beer.
Other non-cadets present include Allein Maliksi, LA Revilla, Norbert Torres, Bradwyn Guinto, Jonathan Grey, and Almond Vosotros.
From the ranks of the veterans, absent from training were Raymond Almazan and Terrence Romeo, who also sat out GlobalPort's debut in the PBA Commissioner's Cup owing to an illness.
With the exception of Arnold Van Opstal, the cadets were all accounted for, among them Mac Belo, Roger Pogoy, Kevin Ferrer, Jio Jalalon, Ed Daquioag, Von Pesumal, Alfonso Gotladera, Carl Bryan Cruz, Matthew Wright, Mike Tolomia, and Russel Escoto.
Deputy Josh Reyes mostly called the shots for the team, with head coach Chot Reyes just supervising at the sidelines.
"We basically continued what we've started in Tagaytay during our mini-camp," said Reyes after practice. "Kami na mismo ang naghihinto ng practice because the energy level and the enthusiasm is very high. We know this already the second practice of all these guys today.
"They're really very excited, they want to go at it, and that's a very good sign for us."
Showing his all-out support to the national team, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa also visited the team’s first practice and gave the players a short pep talk before training started.
"Basically I encouraged them that they will be protected and taken cared of by the PBA. And we want them to be able to give their best for the PBA and Gilas," said Narvasa, who was accompanied by league media bureau chief Willie Marcial.
Narvasa hinted he may go to Gilas practice as often as he can.
"I wanted them to feel comfortable. Kung ano yung pagkukulang namin at ano pa yung puwede naming ibigay, tutulungan namin sila," he added.
For obvious reasons, Escoto, still nursing an MCL injury, didn’t join the team during drills. The was the case for Wright and Castro.
The Phoenix rookie had just undergone surgery to remove bone spurs on his foot, while the TnT Katropa star guard is still recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered during the semifinals of the Philippine Cup.
The training ended with the traditional halfcourt shootout won by Golbalport rookie Von Pesumal. The gunner out of Ateneo took home the pot money of P5,000 contributed by Narvasa and Marcial.