Gilas Pilipinas met for Thursday to begin preparations for FIBA World Cup on Aug. 31 in China. Philippines coach Yeng Guiao just returned after taking a leave of absence to attend to personal matters in Europe for two weeks and met with the core members of the Gilas squad that played in the sixth window of the World Cup qualifiers.
Marcio Lassiter, June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan, Paul Lee, Poy Erram, Troy Rosario, Mark Barroca, and RR Pogoy attended the meeting at the Meralco Gym. Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson were not in attendance.
Center Andray Blatche is expected to arrive July 8 or 9.
"Coach Yeng really set the tone. We need an expectation per member so that we can deliver a very good World Cup performance," said team manager Gabby Cui.
Gilas intend to play a pocket tournament in Spain as previously announced by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio. Cui said Gilas will face Spain, Ivory Coast, and Congo from August 4-11.
Gilas will hold practice twice-a-week on Mondays and Thursdays. Gilas will not practice daily until August to avoid conflicts with the PBA Commissioner's Cup schedule.
Cui assured that Blatche is getting himself in shape to ensure good outcome with the squad.
According to Cui, Guiao expects his players to make sacrifices for the national team.
"They practice everyday with their teams and they're gonna have to devote more time here, extra time away from their families and then of course their bodies also -- they have to extend their physical limits," Cui said.
The Philippines, ranked 31st in the world, will face European powerhouses Serbia (4th) and Italy (13th), and Angola (39th) in Group D.