MARC Pingris looked all banged up as he tries to keep San Mig's grand slam hopes alive against the challenge of Ranidel De Ocampo and his rejuvenated Talk 'N Text teammates. Gabe Norwood is coming back from an ankle injury perhaps too soon in a bid to revive Rain or Shine's playoff hopes.
That's certainly not good news for Gilas Pilipinas.
WITH several members of Gilas still battling for their respective mother teams deep into the PBA Governors Cup playoffs, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan didn’t hide his concern about burnout going to the national team's stint in the Fiba-World Cup and the Asian Games this year.
A number of national players are currently in the thick of the fight for a berth in the Finals of the season-ending conference, with De Ocampo, Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, and Larry Fonacier still suiting up for Talk ‘N Text, and Jeff Chan, Paul Lee, Beau Belga and Norwood playing for Rain or Shine.
Pingris, on the other hand, is the lone Gilas player seeing action for San Mig, which is eyeing to complete a rare Grand Slam this season under coach Tim Cone.
“A number of players are still playing in the PBA,” said Pangilinan after the press conference for the country’s hosting of the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Asia Pacific leg.
“Ang worry ko lang, baka sunog sila eh,” he added.
As it is, a backbreaking buildup awaits Gilas from the time the players reunite next week. [See Gilas buildup for World Cup is definitely no picnic. Here's how it's schedule looks]
Gilas begins its buildup for the World Cp on Tuesday before competing in the Fiba-Asia Cup in Wuhan, China from July 11 to 19.
The team will also have a send-off when it plays in a charity event against a team of NBA players led by Blake Griffin on July 22-23 dubbed as The Last HOME Stand.
Then it’s off to Miami for the Nationals for a series of training before proceeding to Spain for more tune-up games prior to the World Cup slated August 30-September 14.
But Gilas’ journey doesn’t stop in Spain as it will also compete in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, where no less than a gold medal is being eyed by the SBP.
“It’s a heavy, heavy schedule. Heavy basketball calendar,” Pangilinan said. “They are playing hard, tapos Wuhan, tapos medyo konting pahinga before they take off for the States for more training.
“Kasi tuluy-tuloy na ‘yan eh. After States, Spain na. Then, depende kung may konting break, hindi pa namin alam kung babalik pa sila sa Pilipinas before Korea,” Pangilinan said.
Regarding the Fiba-World Cup, Pangilinan said he will be happy if the country will reach the round-of-16, which Gilas can achieve if it finishes among the top four nations in each group.
“You are competing against 23 of the world’s best basketball teams in Spain. So we have to be realistic. Sa akin lang, kung makakaabot tayo sa second round or top 16, happy na ako,” Pangilinan said.
The SBP president added the entry of Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche will definitely enhance Gilas Pilipinas’ chances.
“But bear in mind, ‘yung nasa bracket natin, all of the teams have one or two NBA players in their midst. I think our team will do its best. I’m optimistic,” Pangilinan said.
The Philippines is in Group B along with Puerto Rico, Senegal, Croatia, Greece, and Argentina, which will once again be led by newly-crowned NBA champion Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs.