INJURY concerns are being raised as Gilas Pilipinas begins a rigorous buildup leading to the Fiba World Cup and the Asian Games, but coach Chot Reyes says he is taking the risk in his bid to put the national team in the best possible shape.
Gilas Pilipinas’ road to the two major international competitions starts this week with the Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, China - each step tougher than the other leading up to September.
“Oo, bugbog at masusunog talaga, but it’s a choice between going to the Fiba World Cup a little bit tired but more prepared, or being fresh but not knowing each other,” Reyes, just before leaving with the national squad early Thursday morning to compete for the Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.
The China stint is the first international event for the Philippine squad after the Fiba Asian Championships last year.
The “killer stretch” starts on July 25 as the national squad kicks off its trip with a two-week training camp in Miami before plunging to a series of tuneup matches against European countries.
“Because we will have (new naturalized player) Andray Blatche for the first time, I don’t want to go to the World Cup without being able to play with Andray for at least the first eight or nine games,” explained Reyes.
“So it’s really a choice between medyo pagod ka at sunog ka or di kami magkakakilala kami. I chose the former,” he added.
The outspoken national mentor said Marcus Douthit will also be with the Gilas team in its training camp and tuneup matches as he alternates playing with Blatche, the Brooklyn Nets center.
Reyes added that the tuneup matches will also aid him in his decision on who to include in the final roster for the world championships and the Asian Games. He said the deadline for the submission of the final 12 for the Fiba World Cup could possibly be on August 15.