JIMMY Alapag said camaraderie among Gilas players is no problem at this point since they have been practicing together since February.
But with the new pool untested in competition, time is of the essence as the team tries to whip itself into top shape with two months to go before the Fiba-Asia men’s championships.
Alapag said the aim is to get everyone on the same page as the pool prepares for a two-week training camp in Lithuania.
“Looking forward to bonding together in Lithuania. It’s also the first test for the team on where we’re at because we haven’t really been in a game-time situation,” Alapag said.
Gilas held one final practice session at the San Juan Arena on Thursday night before leaving for the Baltic town of Palanga, Lithuania on Sunday evening.
The Fiba Asia Championship is set August 1-11.
The 17-man pool, unveiled in February by coach Chot Reyes, has been reduced to 12 as of Wednesday due to injuries to veteran PBA stars Kelly Williams (recurring blood disorder), Jared Dillinger (fractured pelvic), Ryan Reyes (hamstring) and Sonny Thoss (back).
The fifth man, amateur standout Greg Slaughter, will likely miss the Lithuania trip as he was prevailed upon by the MVP group (the chief backer of Gilas Pilipinas) to stay and help NLEX in its bid for a fifth straight PBA D-League championship.
However, Rain or Shine banger Beau Belga has been made part of the pool as a late call-up.
“I know we’re a little bit banged up, but for this time, we’re set to be together and we understand what we want to do,” added Alapag, the Talk ‘N Text point guard.
Alapag earlier said that should he make the final cut, he hopes to end his national team stint with a Fiba-Asia championship.