THE road to Rio started for Gilas Pilipinas as it began its buildup for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Monday night.
Excitement filled the air as basically a perfect attendance trooped the Meralco gym where the national team held a light training that started in the viewing room.
June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, LA Tenorio, Ian Sangalang, Jeff Chan, and Paul Lee attended practice along with the holdovers from the last Gilas team that finished runner-up to China in the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship.
Only injured Ranidel de Ocampo was absent in the first of the once-a-week practices spanning seven months.
“It’s nice to have the cream of the Philippine basketball crop all on one court,” national coach Tab Baldwin said. “It was a one-hundred percent attendance, so I’m one-hundred percent happy.”
“We’re a long way from anything, really, right now, but it’s very heartening, I’m sure, for the whole basketball community to see this group of guys on the floor,” the American-Kiwi mentor added.