The Gilas Pilipinas Men resumed the training bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba ahead of the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
On Sunday, 12 players, including a Philippine Basketball Association veteran, entered the “Calambubble” to begin their buildup for the Feb. 18-23 event at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Leading the initial training pool is NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena, who announced through Instagram that he was called up again for national team duty.
Also returning to practice are PBA draftees Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, and Rey Suerte, and collegiate stars Javi Gomez de Liaño, Dave Ildefonso, Justine Baltazar, Calvin Oftana, William Navarro, and Kenmark Cariño.
Ateneo center Ange Kouame, whose naturalization is being processed in Congress, also joined the training.
“These young men have not only proven their dedication to the Gilas program but have also shown their capability to work well as a team as we saw in the two games against Thailand in the last window,” SBP president Al Panlilio said.
Jong Uichico, who was assigned head coach during the November window, was tasked again to train the Gilas Men along with national team program director Tab Baldwin, Boyet Fernandez, and Sandy Arespacochaga.
Meralco gaffer Norman Black and Rain Or Shine chief tactician Caloy Garcia were also named to the coaching staff.
“I’m thankful for their commitment as we continue to lay the foundation for the team we will form in 2023,” Panlilio said.
While only Ravena entered so far, some more PBA stars are expected to join the training bubble later this month.
“We had very good discussions with the PBA and we were able to get the commitment of several PBA players who will be part of the second batch coming into the bubble training on January 22nd,” Panlilio added.
The concurrent Meralco governor added, “As always we appreciate the unwavering support of PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and the PBA board to the Gilas program.” With the Tokyo Olympic hopefuls arriving next weekend, this would mean that national athletes from four disciplines are to flock Inspire ahead of a busy 2021 in sports.*PNA