Gilas Pilipinas ‘cramming’ for SEA Games with closed-door camp

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Gilas reconvenes after the PBA Finals on Wednesday, April 26, at Meralco Gym in Pasig City. | Denison Rey A. Dalupang/PDI

Gilas reconvenes after the PBA Finals on Wednesday, April 26, at Meralco Gym in Pasig City. | Denison Rey A. Dalupang/INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas will try to mitigate the effects of a manpower crisis and a short preparation time for the Southeast Asian Games by holding a closed-door camp at Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

“We’re going to do a lot of cramming, for lack of a better word,” national coach Chot Reyes told reporters on Wednesday night, shortly after a light practice session at Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

“We want to have everyone there. Not just for the basketball practices, but for the team’s development,” he added.

The Philippines is seeking to reclaim its lofty place in the biennial meet’s basketball competition after being knocked off by Indonesia in the Hanoi edition almost a year ago.

But that campaign is causing worries with several marquee names—namely Jamie Malonzo, Mikey Williams, June Mar Fajardo—have been stricken off the list from which the final roster will be built.

Malonzo and Williams begged off due to personal reasons, while Reyes said the Gilas brain trust is not risking Fajardo, who is still recovering from a knee injury.

Scottie Thompson, the reigning PBA Most Valuable Player and another Gilas fixture, is also unlikely as he is expecting the birth of his first-born child.

“These guys are going to be playing for the first time so we’re gonna have to do a lot of team development activities to build cohesion and synergy required to win in the Southeast Asian Games,” Reyes said of the intense camp, which will run until the contingent flies for Phnom Penh on May 6.

Inspire has been the venue for several training camps for Gilas when Tab Baldwin used to call the shots. TNT also held camp at the Calamba facility during its build-up for the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup bubble tournament.

The Philippines is grouped with Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar in the preliminary phase of the competition, which unfurls on May 9.

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