OTHER than a 10-day training sojourn and a five-day clinic under legendary coach Tab Baldwin, Gilas Pilipinas will also have one more immediate task at hand during its two-week stay in New Zealand.
Coach Chot Reyes is expected to finally trim the national team lineup down to its final 12 right on the team’s second day of stay in Napier on Thursday, or just before it embarks on a six-game exhibition series.
“Before we start our six-game grind, alam na namin kung sino ang nasa Final 12,” said Reyes, who under Fiba-Asia guidelines has until Friday to name his Final 12.
Thirteen players will be going to New Zealand, meaning only one of them will be left out in the official Gilas Pilipinas roster for the 27th Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in Manila.
Joining the New Zealand trip are Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, Jimmy Alapag, LA Tenorio, Larry Fonacier, Jayson Castro, Gary David, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Beau Blega, Japeth Aguilar, Junmar Fajardo, and Marcus Douthit.
All 13 players also went to Lithuania last month for a two-week training camp as part of the national team's build-up for the August 1-11 qualifier to the Fiba-World Basketball Championship next year in Spain.
Only Alapag, De Ocampo, Aguilar, and Douthit were the remnants of Smart-Gilas Pilipinas that reached the semifinals and finished fourth during the 2011 edition of the Fiba-Asia in Wuhan, China.
Norwood, Chan, Tenorio, Fonacier, David, De Ocampo, Alapag, and Douthit on the other hand, were members of the victorious Gilas team that won the championship in last year’s William Jones Cup basketball tournament in Taipei.