UNLIKE its Asian counterparts, Gilas Pilipinas is still on the lookout for quality tune-up matches with just about a month left before the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship.
Except for a July 26 scrimmage against Kazakhstan, no other exhibition matches are in store to keep the nationals in fine form for the August 1-11 qualifier for the 2014 World Basketball Championship.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes said the team is just awaiting now the confirmation for a possible six-game series to be held in New Zealand.
“We’re putting together a New Zealand tour. Hopefully, ma-finalize ito in the next few days. Sa ngayon ito na lang ang naiwan. Six games, hopefully ma-finalize lahat `yun,” said Reyes.
But other than that, nothing else is in the horizon for the nationals.
Reyes admitted even the projected pocket tournament supposed to be hosted by the country involving teams that are also competing in the Fiba-Asia meet also looks bleak as most of the teams will already be busy competing in the Jones Cup.
“Wala eh, lahat sila pupunta nan g Jones Cup. Wala nang gustong pumunta dito nun. Kung before Jones Cup gagawin, ngayon na `yun. After Jones Cup, masyado nang malapit `yun sa Fiba-Asia,” added the national coach.
The Jones Cup is set July 6-14, a tournament where Gilas is the defending champion.
Unfortunately, the diplomatic tension between the Philippine government and its Taiwanese counterpart forced Jones Cup organizers to revoke its earlier invitation for the national team to compete, leaving Gilas with a big vacuum to plug as far as its Fiba-Asia preparation and build-up is concerned.
“Talagang itong New Zealand na lang ang hihintayin natin,” Reyes said.
So far, only a two-week training camp and a seven-game series against club teams and the under-23 national squad of Lithuania had been accomplished by the nationals in the one month they’ve started practicing together.
In contrast, other competing countries are already in the midst of their extensive preparations for the biennial cage meet.
“China just swept Ukraine in a series. They (Chinese) were able to step up their training not only with Ukraine, but they had a four game series with Australia too, 2-2 yun,” said Reyes.
In addition, the Chinese are also gearing up for the Stankovic Cup that also features other top teams like Germany, Argentina, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, and Australia.”
But Reyes insisted: “We are not looking at them. Ang worry na lang natin `yung gagawin natin sa sarili natin.”
Spin.ph was also furnished with a scouting report on where fellow Group A teams have been playing so far for their Fiba-Asia training.
Jordan just held a training camp in Greece and Istanbul, and had friendly games against the Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria national teams.
Chinese Taipei is reportedly scheduled to have a tune-up game versus a team comprised of so-called NBA legends Saturday, before the team plunges into action in the Jones Cup.
Saudi Arabia is solely training in the Middle East.