Coach Tim Cone said Gilas Pilipinas has scheduled exhibition games against assistant coach Jimmy Alapag's Alab Pilipinas from the Asean Basketball League on November 4 and 11, and a game against a Taiwanese club on Nov. 18. Gilas will use the games as tuneups for the Southeast Asian Games beginning in December.
Games will be closed to public and media.
"We're trying to keep our range tight. We know the people are out there scouting us," Cone said. "We want to have total focus on coming in and playing and working against the Alab team and not having to worry about playing for the crowd, playing for you guys or trying to look good or whatever. We're trying to do the work."
With these games now on their schedule, Cone is trying to balance the intensity of the practices with the needs of the PBA teams his players belong to -- most are in the running for a quarterfinals spot in the PBA Governors' Cup.
Eight players from the pool -- Ginebra's Stanley Pringle, LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Art dela Cruz, Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, NorthPort's Christian Standhardinger; and Alaska's Vic Manuel -- will be playing on Nov. 3, a day before Gilas takes on Alab Pilipinas.
"We're talking about the fact that as we get to the games we're gonna need more, demand more. More effort, more energy, and the only problem is when the games come closer, so do the playoffs of the PBA. So that's what we're trying to keep in mind: They're working towards the playoffs, the games become more important, and how do we find the balance between that importance and the SEA Games importance? That's something we talked about today," said Cone.
Cone said he'll still try to field everybody in those three practice games.
"We gotta remember, we're only playing a 40-minute game. It's not a 48-minute PBA game, it's a 40-minute FIBA game. Not as many minutes to go around. So 12, 14 players is really too many. But we're gonna try to get everybody out there, give them a feel. That's why we're playing more than one practice game," he said.
Thirteen players were present for Gilas in its Monday session at the Meralco Gym, with only TNT's Jayson Castro, who is recovering from a right calf injury, and Matthew Wright, who is dealing with the delivery of his partner's baby, not present during practice. Only 12 players hit the floor, though, as June Mar Fajardo sat out their on-court work while he nursed a swollen knee.
Cone said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is trying to figure out whether or not it can add new names to the pool in light of the loss of Castro, who is set to miss out the entirety of their preparations in November.
Former Alaska Aces head coach Alex Compton and Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee both were on hand Monday to help.
Cone said Compton was brought in to give a set of "fresh eyes" when it comes to their scheming on both ends of the floor, though he made clear Compton isn't officially part of the team.
"I actually asked [Compton] if he could join us, but he's gonna be doing some traveling. He has a couple of events he has to go to in the next month and a half, so he won't be here basically. But he said he'd come when he could," Cone said. "He's wearing his Pilipinas shirt from five years ago, that's why it's so tight. But he's just helping us out when he can."
Brownlee, meanwhile, was initially brought in to assist in five-on-five-on-five scrimmages, but that plan was immediately scrapped when Cone learned that they wouldn't have a complete roster to work with.
"Most likely a one-time thing," Cone said of Browlee. "I asked him because I knew Jason wouldn't be here, and I wanted to get 15 guys. I wanted to do some five-on-five-on-fives. The only problems is after I asked him to come, I got a text from Matt saying he couldn't make it, and then we heard about June Mar not making it. So it blew up our five-on-five-on-fives, now we were only 13 players with Justin. We had to adjust and do something different."