After June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario returned to practice on Monday evening, members of the Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff will take its own sweet time to decide on the composition of the national team.
Two tuneup games against the Adelaide 36ers of Australia will help national coach Yeng Guiao decide on his final 12 roster.
Fajardo, who skipped the Monday evening victory part of the San Miguel Beermen in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup, practiced with Gilas for first the time with Pogoy and Rosario.
“Up to now, me and the coaching staff are having a hard time deciding on the final 12. We know that it’s a tough group that we’re in,” said Guiao during a sendoff lunch yesterday at the Meralco gymnasium in Pasig City.
Guiao spoke in the presence of Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas officials led by Chairman Emeritus Manny Pangilinan and president Alfredo Panlilio, alongside 36ers’ CEO Ben Kavenagh, head coach Joey Wright and members of their team.
The 15-man Gilas Pilipinas pool is on its final phase of preparation for the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China, with less than two weeks to go before the start of the tournament.
“We will battle the best teams in the world, and that’s 32 of them,” said Panlilio.
The national pool, which welcomed the addition of Robert Bolick Jr. and CJ Perez in their tuneup game in Spain, will face the 36ers in two tuneup games on Friday and on Sunday.
While injured Matthew Wright is still sitting out practices, Guiao said he hopes that their game with the 36ers will allow them a chance to face a squad that is known for playing high quality basketball.
The 36ers are the four-time champions of Australia’s National Basketball League.
And their coach in Wright used to play for PBA squad Presto, with Allan Caidic.
The tuneup games between Gilas Pilipinas and the Australians come more than a year after a fight broke out on July 2 during the Philippines’ game with the Australian Boomers in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Since then, the SBP replaced many players who were suspended, and Guiao eventually took over from Chot Reyes.
“This is something that I thought will be good for Philippine basketball. I want to erase bad memories of the past, and replace them with good memories of Australia,” said Guiao.