GILAS Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio said on Thursday the national team is dropping plans for friendlies with Japan while setting its sight on playing a series of tune-up matches possibly against squads in the NBA Summer League from July 4-11 in Las Vegas.
Gilas was originally set to fly to Tokyo to play a series of tune-up games from June 27 to July 1, but those plans changed after the result of the draw which will have the Fiba-Asia Men's Championship hosts most likely meeting Japan in the second stage of the eliminations.
“Mahirap na kung ka-grupo (ang Japan). And in the first place, we never really confirmed (Gilas' participation in Japan). There was an invitation coursed through SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas), pero sa ganung sitwasyon na makaka-grupo natin ang Japan, understood na yun,” Antonio told Spin.ph via an overseas call from Klaipeda City in Lithuania.
The Gilas coaching staff chose to be in Group A during last week’s Fiba Asia draw, joining 2011 tournament runner-up Jordan, Chinese-Taipei and Saudi Arabia.
The top three teams after the first round advance to the second phase of elimination, where they will eventually face the top three of Group B composed of Japan, Qatar, Lebanon and Hong Kong.
Gilas is currently winding its two-week training camp and tune-up matches against club teams and the Lithuanian 20-and-under team in Palanga, Lithuania.
Antonio said Gilas will resume their practice upon their return to Manila before flying either on July 4 or July 5 to Las Vegas to play between four to five tune-up games.
“There won’t be any other training, just tune-up games. We’ll try to get to play against teams since magkaka-NBA Summer league na dun by that time. The coaching staff is now connecting with their contacts there to arrange the tune-up games,” said the Gilas Pilipinas team manager.
The Gilas squad was forced to look for an alternative tournament after Taiwan organizers withdrew their invitation to the Philippines to defend its title in the annual William Jones Cup.