Gilas Pilipinas hopes to ramp up their preparations for the 2019 FIBA World Cup by increasing the frequency of their practices before flying out to Spain on August 4 for a pocket tournament.
Coach Yeng Guiao said naturalized player Andray Blatche will practice twice a day each day with NLEX starting Tuesday before the national pool starts its own daily sessions next week.
"In the afternoon he will have a session with the trainer for individual conditioning. Morning is NLEX practice, every Monday and Thursday. NLEX in the morning, Gilas in the evening," Guiao said.
Only 10 players attended the practice on Monday, with most of the players preoccupied with the ongoing action in the PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals. Blatche, Gabe Norwood, Kiefer Ravena, Paul Lee, Matthew Wright, CJ Perez, Beau Belga, Mark Barroca and Poy Erram suited up for practice, while June Mar Fajaro observed in street clothes.
"It's part of the distraction and the focus that they cannot, of course, focus a hundred percent on what we're doing. We'll just have to manage whatever opportunities we have," said Guiao.
"It's the crucial phase of the playoffs, so we're just waiting until the other guys get freed up from their schedules. Of course, we don't wish them to lose but if they get eliminated, they can focus here."
Recovering from Sunday's first round games were San Miguel's Christian Standhardinger and Marcio Lassiter, NorthPort's Robert Bolick, and TNT's Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy.
Japeth Aguilar and Stanley Pringle were also absent with Ginebra set for its Game 2 clash with Magnolia on Tuesday.
"I can't blame them. I know they have responsibilities with their mother clubs," Guiao said. "Good thing June Mar is here, and even the others who have games tomorrow. It's really hard to divide attention especially at this crucial stage."
Once the playoff campaign ends for some teams, Guiao expects the players to return to Gilas' build-up in order to get to at least "70 or 80 percent" of where they want to be in terms of conditioning.
"We have an understanding with the PBA and the PBA board that as soon as the players are vacant and their mother teams are no longer playing, we have full control of the players," said Guiao.
"The 20 to 30 percent, we're going to chase that when August comes," Guiao added. "Our expectation is to have better chemistry and better conditioning for Andray since he needs to go up and down on offense and defense too."