By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team already began its preparations for the upcoming FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers November window.
With only one full month remaining before the FIBA qualifiers, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) kept their promise of holding Monday training sessions for the national team.
A reported 12 players were present in their first-ever practice including Gilas’ future naturalized players Justin Brownlee of Barangay Ginebra and Cameron Oliver of TNT Tropang Giga.
Both players will serve as the imports of the two storied PBA franchises as the 2022 Commissioner’s Cup is set to begin today.
Despite issues with the SBP regarding his denied Letter of Clearance (LOC) to make his debut in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), William Navarro still showed up in the practice session together with his Ateneo teammate Angelo Kouame.
Kouame, who is still getting back in top form after suffering a meniscal sprain and a partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, is still Gilas’ top option as their naturalized player for the window if Brownlee and Oliver’s papers can’t make it on time.
Also present in the practice were two top players recently involved in two separate three-team trades, Arvin Tolentino of the NorthPort Batang Pier and the newest member of TNT, Calvin Oftana,
Completing the squad were San Miguel Beermen’s CJ Perez, Meralco’s Chris Newsome, TNT’s RR Pogoy, Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson & Japeth Aguilar, and young cadet Lebron Lopez.
The national team is set to square off against Jordan on November 10 and will then go up against Saudi Arabia three days after.