Gilas Pilipinas and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) have announced their preparations for the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup in August to September in China.
The two parties settled on starting the twice-a-week practice sessions on June 13, as requested by head coach Yeng Guiao.
Daily practices will commence in August, but the exact dates have yet to be determined due to the possible conflict in scheduling with the PBA, as the Commissioner's Cup playoffs will also be held during the same time frame.
"The PBA is committed to support and is sacrificing a lot of schedules of players for the sake of the national team. No doubt that the PBA is in support," said Al Panlilio, president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Gilas is also looking at exhibition games in Spain, with the dates to be announced at a later time, added Panlilio. The pocket tournament will feature Gilas, host country Spain, Ivory Coast and Congo.
The Philippines, ranked 31st in the world, will have its hands full as the team is grouped with powerhouse world no. 4 Serbia, world no. 13 Italy and multiple-time Afrobasket champions, world no. 39 Angola.
Serbia will be fielding in some notable stars such as Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, Boban Marjanovic of the Philadelphia 76ers, and floor general Milos Tedosic.
Italy will be headlined by NBA vets Marco Belinelli and Danilo Gallinari.
Angola, meanwhile, is a staple in many major international competitions, such as the Olympics and the World Cup.
Naturalized center Andray Blatche may come to practice as early as July, as requested by Guiao, to work on honing chemistry and being in shape.
"He knows most of the team anyway, so chemistry is not also an issue. It's just playing together, getting together. That is the intention of the whole team," said the SBP president.
As for the composition of the squad, Panlilio is looking at continuity, as they want to keep the core used in the qualifiers intact, but may look at two or three other players.
"I think coach Yeng said that he might keep the core. Two, three, four names more, but it's up to coach Yeng, but he will keep the core of the team," Panlilio said.