GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes is hopeful the team’s trip to Lithuania for a two-week training and series of tune-up games will fast-track the Nationals’ preparation for the Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship.
Reyes admitted that tactically, nothing much has been accomplished yet by the national team the past two months when he started conducting once-a-week practice at the Philsports Arena.
“Wala eh, very, very little (time to practice). I really think we’re going to be in a very bad shape for the All-Star game,” Reyes said Sunday during the formal unveiling of the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship logo at halftime of the Ginebra-Talk `N Text game at the Mall of Asia (MOA) media room.
Gilas Pilipinas will face the PBA All-Star team on May 5 in Digos City, Davao del Sur for a one-game tune-up before returning to Manila the following day to play the Shanghai Sharks at the MOA Arena.
Reyes added that daily practice for Gilas basically starts in June by which time the PBA Commissioner’s Cup is over.
“Everyday practice will only begin when the PBA ends. For sure, some players will ask for a few days off. But my mind is really set on June 1, though by June 2, we’ll leave for Lithuania for the Lithuania Cup, so it will be a hectic schedule of six tune-up games,” he added.
The fiery national mentor also confirmed former Lithuania national team coach Kestutis Kemzura will join Gilas Pilipinas at the training camp in the seaside resort town of Palanga on June 2-16.
Reyes hopes Gilas’ games against top local Lithuanian clubs will somehow toughen the Filipinos in their bid to make a top three finish in the FIBA-Asia showpiece that Manila is hosting for the first time since 1973.
Kemzura piloted Lithuania to a bronze medal finish in the 2010 Fiba-World Championships in Turkey.