THE weekly training of Gilas Pilipinas has just taken the backseat to give way to the ongoing Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup playoffs.
For the second straight Monday, the national team skipped its practice at the Meralco gym as majority of the players in the national pool are currently seeing action in playoffs of the all-Filipino conference, which is now on its semifinal stage.
Deputy coach Alex Compton said he already talked with coach Tab Baldwin, who said practice will just resume after the playoffs.
“He said training will come after the playoffs. And I take that to mean it’s after the finals,” said Compton, whose Alaska team is already assured of a place in the finals of the season-opening tournament.
Team manager Butch Antonio confirmed Gilas will let the current playoffs finish before resuming its weekly buildup for the national team’s preparation for the coming Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
At least six of the 17-man Gilas pool are still playing in the semis, namely, Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, and Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter, and Calvin Abueva of Alaska.
Among the players in the national team pool whose teams failed to go deep in the playoffs include, Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter, LA Tenorio, and Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, Matt Granuelas-Rosser, Ryan Reyes, and Troy Rosario of TNT, and the Star duo of Marc Pingris and Ian Sangalang.
De Ocampo, Sangalang, and Rosario though, are currently on the injured list, leaving the team with only seven men to practice if the training pushes through as scheduled.
Of late, Baldwin has invited Mo Tautuaa and college players Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Ferrer to provide warm bodies during the Monday night trainings. Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine is also being eyed, although he is currently out of the playoffs with an ankle injury.
But even before the playoffs, Baldwin said he’s already expecting things to happen, especially for members of the national team having to manage their time practicing with Gilas and their respective mother ballclubs in the pro league.
“Am too is concerned about their physical health. We don’t want to put these guys in a position where they can’t get out there and to the job that they’re paid to do,” said the Gilas Pilipinas coach.
“They’re (players) are concerned about their PBA team’s playoff situation, and they’re concerned about their next game.”