GILAS Pilipinas hopes to have everybody accounted for when it resumes its regular Monday night practice by next week.
Terrence Romeo, Raymund Almazan, Arnold Van Opstal, and the injured Art dela Cruz were not around when members of the national team training pool converged at the Meralco gym to start their weekly practice.
Romeo has just come out of the hospital Saturday night after being downed by typhoid, while Almazan and Van Opstal had to attend to prior commitments.
Dela Cruz is resting at home after undergoing surgery for the ruptured Achilles he suffered on the first day of Gilas’ recent three-day mini-camp in Tagaytay.
“Hopefully, by next week kumpleto na 'yung pool,” said team manager Butch Antonio. “Pero lahat naman nung mga players na ito nagpaalam na sa amin that they have to skip the first Monday night practice.”
Romeo, according to Antonio, has already not been feeling well during the camp.
“He’s been sick, pero sinasabi niya okay naman siya. That’s why we’re checking on him from time to time,” said the long-time Gilas official.
Players nursing injuries such as Jayson Castro (hamstring), Matthew Wright (bone spurs), and Russel Escoto (MCL injury) showed up in practice, with both Castro and Wright even joining the team in doing some shooting drills.
Castro said he now feels fine after hurting his hamstring during Game Six of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals between defending champion San Miguel and TnT Katropa. He isn’t sure yet if he’ll be ready play for the Texters this Friday when the team makes its debut in the Commissioner’s Cup against Meralco.
“Wala pa akong clearance if puwede na akong makalaro,” he told SPIN.ph. “Hopefully before Friday baka malaman ko na.”
Wright didn’t suit up in Phoenix’s 118-116 win over Blackwater in overtime last Saturday but stressed he’s feeling better now after surgery that removed bone spurs from his foot during the season break.
“I wish it was better, but I can’t complain,” he said after practice. “I feel good. Its’ just a matter of strengthening and getting back to game shape.”
Big men June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar, fresh from playing in the all-Filipino best-of-seven finals two weeks ago, were in attendance but just observed from the sidelines after showing up in street clothes.
But the 6-foot-10 Fajardo assured he and Aguilar will start practicing with the team next week.
“Papaano nagpapahinga pa 'yung mga ‘oldies,’ said a smiling coach Chot Reyes when asked about the abundance of new faces in Gilas practice.
“Pero OK na rin yun because it's giving us an opportunity to take a longer look at the new ones.”