Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao said the 14-man pool for the 2019 FIBA World Cup will be unveiled when Andray Blatche arrives later this week. Guiao said Blatche could join the team soon as early as July 12, once his child custody hearing in the United States concludes.
"When Andray arrives, we'll release the final pool. It's more or less this team," he said after the team's tuneup match against Mighty Sports on Monday.
But even without Blatche in the fold, Gilas was still able to come up with a decent showing in their exhibition game, which ended in a draw, against the import-laden Mighty Sports squad.
After allowing Mighty to take advantage of their rusty offense early on, the national team clamped down on the defensive end to overhaul an early double-digit first quarter deficit in the second half.
"They forgot some of our plays. As confused as they still sometimes got, we were still able to manufacture a good game," Guiao noted. "They're really good. They were able to salvage the situation even when the play is bad."
Gilas still needs to iron out some wrinkles on offense, which was evident in their fourth quarter execution. They led by five, 68-63, thanks to some hot shooting from beyond the arc, but that slowly turned into an 85-79 deficit heading into the final minute when Mighty got sharper late.
Gilas fortunately managed to get two huge clutch threes from Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez to salvage the result.
Guiao is optimistic that the team will reach better form as their preparation ramps up in the coming weeks.
"Our execution's going to get better in a few weeks, hopefully before we leave for Spain and when Andray comes in," said Guiao. "We haven't really practiced defense the past few days that we practiced but with the stock knowledge that they have, I think we can still improve in a lot of departments. The result is encouraging."
The team's concern now will be looking for a practice partner before heading to Spain for a couple of exhibition games.
"We can't think of anyone left to play for a tuneup game. We'd like to play some more games but there's really no team as of now we can look at with the quality that's going to help us prepare. I think we really have to look for that kind of competition when we leave for Spain," Guiao said.