RAIN or Shine big man Beau Belga is on standby for Gilas Pilipinas' campaign in the Fiba-Asia championships in case the right ankle injury of Ranidel de Ocampo does not improve in the next few days.
Gilas assistant coach Josh Reyes bared that De Ocampo's ankle, which he sprained in a friendly against Kazakhstan on Friday, will be evaluated again by the team therapist in practice on Monday night.
Reyes, son of Gilas head coach Chot Reyes, said contingency measures are always in place for the team vying in the August 1-11 tournament serving as the qualifier for next year's world championships in Spain.
“That’s why we have the pool. He (Belga) is always ready. He never stopped practicing. That’s the reason why he never stops practicing,” said the younger Reyes.
“Hindi naman na kailangang banggitin sa kanya (yung possibility). Everyone here is ready whatever happens, whether or not may possibility o wala,” he added.
“That’s the commitment everyone here signed for. We have such a great group of players."
Under Fiba-Asia rules, teams can still make changes to their lineup before Wednesday (July 31), provided they submit a doctor's certificate to justify the switch.
As Belga waits in the sidelines, De Ocampo insisted the swelling in his ankle has gone down after two days of rest and will do everything to be ready for Asia's biggest basketball event.
“Maga pa ng kaunti pero ipa-practice ko na ito bukas," he said on Sunday. "Tingin ko okay naman. Ite-tape ko na lang mahigpit para hindi magalaw.
“Walang pipigil sa akin, kahit hindi na ko makagalaw basta yung puso ko andyan pa. Ilalaban ko katawan ko," added the sweet-shooting big man. "Wala nang oras para injury, hindi pwede ang kulang-kulang, tayo wala ng oras para magpahinga at mapagod. Kailangang lumaban kahit sugatan."
Asked about his thoughts on Belga possibly taking over his spot, De Ocampo said: “Ganun talaga. Okay sa akin yun basta ikabubuti ng team. Lahat naman tayo sakripisyo talaga.”
Meanwhile, assistant coach Jong Uichico told Spin.ph that Jason Castro’s injury has improved significantly. The Gilas guard also suffered a sprained ankle in the Kazakhstan match.
“Nakipag shooting-shooting na si Jason kahapon. Pero siguro may tenderness pa, normal naman 'yun. Syempre continuous rehab mawawala na rin yun,” the former national coach said.
Uichico, however, played down the chance of drafting players outside the pool in case the injuries do not heal.
“Hindi naman malabo, pero syempre hindi sila nakapag-practice. Papaano yun? Magti-tiyaga na siguro kami dun sa nag-practice,” the eight-time PBA champion coach said.