ONE look at the schedule of Gilas Pilipinas in its buildup for the Fiba World Cup and Asian Games and you will know the next two months won't be a picnic for coach Chot Reyes and his players.
From the time the members of the team reunite on Tuesday, Gilas is set to go through a backbreaking schedule that will include a stint in the Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, China, a training camp in Miami, a tournament in France, and exhibition matches both at home, in the US and Europe.
By the time they reach Seville in Spain to begin their campaign in the Fiba World Cup on August 30, Gilas players will have logged thousands of air miles and hours of training in the gym and actual games as they try to make an impression against the best teams in the world.
“Looking forward naman ako (in the long training with Gilas), pero it’s not going to be easy,” Ginebra star LA Tenorio, one of the bakcourt stars of the national team, told Spin.ph.
Tenorio said the loaded schedule would test the limits of the team, whose players are coming off a whirlwind PBA season that was condensed to give Gilas enough time for its buildup for the World Cup as well as the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
No one should feel the rigors, Tenorio said, more than San Mig forward Marc Pingris, who has had no rest since Gilas' second-place finish to Iran in the Fiba-Asia championships in Manila in August.
“There will be a lot of sacrifices for us just to be in shape kasi lahat ng (Gilas) players dire-diretso eh,” Tenorio said. “Lahat kami bugbog, though ang pinaka-bugbog (sa laro), si Ping (Pingris), pero naka-set na ang schedule ng PBA na ganyan.”
The Filipinos kick off their buildup with a stint in the Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan, China from July 11-19, followed by exhibition games against NBA stars led by Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard on July 22-23 in Manila.
From there, the national squad leaves for a training camp in Miami, Florida from July 25 to August 7 where new naturalized player Andray Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets might just join the team, according to team manager Aboy Castro.
The two-week training will lead to a nine-game run of exhibition matches in Vittoria, Spain beginning against African powerhouse Angola on August 7, the Spanish ACB Select team (August 10), as well as stint in the France Invitational in Antibes, France.
The national squad will be locking horns with France on August 15, Australia (August 16) and Ukraine (August 17) in Antibes, France before traveling back to Vittoria to face Euskadi on August 20 and possibly Angola again on August 22.
Gilas then winds up its tough stretch of tune-up matches against Dominican Republic on August 24 and against Egypt on August 25 in Guadalajara.
The national squad then goes back to Seville for its opening World Cup game on August 30, followed by matches against Greece on August 31, Argentina on September 1, Puerto Rico on September 3, and Senegal on September 4.