Gilas Pilipinas will play two goodwill games with the Adelaide 36ers of Australia's National Basketball League a week before they kick off their 2019 FIBA World Cup campaign, team manager Gabby Cui told ESPN5 on Thursday.
The two games, which will be played on August 23 and 25, will prove vital to the national team's World Cup preparations before they fly out to China.
The 36ers finished the 2018-19 NBL season with an even 14-14 record and placed fifth in the standings, narrowly missing an entry into the semifinals. The squad is also set to play in Utah later this year for one of the Jazz's NBA preseason assignments.
Gilas breezed through a light practice at the Meralco Gym on Monday with assistant coach Caloy Garcia taking over for head coach Yeng Guiao, who had a personal commitment to attend to.
Thirteen players - Gabe Norwood, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Paul Lee, Kiefer Ravena, CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Raymond Almazan, Japeth Aguilar, Poy Erram and Troy Rosario - were present in the 30-minute session.
Lee, who briefly hurt his ankle in Magnolia's 82-86 loss against Rain or Shine on Wednesday, and Rosario watched in street clothes.
"The instruction of Coach Yeng was just to let the players run the plays just to refresh them from what we're doing. We know that this week the games are a bit crucial in the PBA so we didn't want any five-on-five scrimmages," said Garcia. "We ran about 30 straight minutes of walk-through on plays. We didn't have want to get them tired. The important thing is that at least we refreshed them to know what plays we're running."
Garcia expects practice to ramp up on Monday when Andray Blatche, who arrives on Saturday, joins the team.
"Coach Yeng is hoping he's in shape. The last time he came in from when he was in China, he was in shape. If he's not in shape, he's going to be practicing with NLEX," said Garcia.
ESPN5's JC Ansis contributed to this report.