National coach Yeng Guiao was happy to see a loaded pool of players gather together in practice as Gilas Pilipinas prepares for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
"We are awed and we are delighted at having the most talented players in the PBA in one building, in one court," he said after the first training wrapped up Monday night at the Meralco gym.
All 16 players that Guiao invited showed up Monday for the national team practice ahead of the game against Iran on September 13 in Tehran and against Qatar on September 17 at home.
Fresh off competing in the Asian Games, Christian Standhardinger, Paul Lee, Stanley Pringle, Gabe Norwood, Poy Erram, Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan, and Asi Taulava returned for another tour of duty. Greg Slaughter, Scottie Thompson, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, Ian Sangalang, Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, and Allein Maliksi, likewise, responded to the call.
"It's been a while since we've brought together this kind of talent," said Guiao. "You can see that there's a difference in just knowing that these guys are the most talented, the best players in the PBA and they're willing to make that sacrifice to represent us."
The next challenge for Guiao is how to make this new group of players learn the system and jell together in just a few days.
"Maybe it just puts a little bit pressure on me," he said. "Now that the talent is here, the next question is how am I, as a coach, going to be able to orchestrate this talent and make them play good basketball together as a team."
"We hope we can replicate the kind of cohesion, chemistry, and teamwork that we were able to do with the Asian Games team," Guiao added. "Half of the team is new so we have to teach them from scratch again. We have to start from square one. But I am still confident that we can whip up a competitive team in the next few days in time for the Iran game."
Guiao was set to announce the 12-man roster that will see action in the game versue Iran, but he's still waiting on official word on the eligibility status of Greg Slaughter, who might have to compete for the lone spot for a naturalized player alongside Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle.
"There are still issues which prevent me from making the final lineup. We have to be certain on the situation of Greg, Christian, and Stanley," he explained. "That's what's hanging right now. We hope we can make them play as locals, as Filipinos. But we have not yet fixed their eligibility to play as Filipinos as of this point."
Slaughter is confident though that he can provide the necessary FIBA requirements prior to the finalization of the lineup.
Gilas Pilipinas will be holding daily training sessions until the team's departure on September 10.