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Gilas cancels practice as TNT, SMB brace for crucial elims clash

Tim Cone will have to wait a bit longer to reconvene with his Gilas Pilipinas wards as the national team opted to cancel its Monday practice for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Team manager Gabby Cui confirmed the development a day after Cone, who spoke to reporters Sunday after a Barangay Ginebra loss to NorthPort in the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup, said that there's a "60-40" chance that the session will be postponed.

"Only because Talk 'N Text is coming back from out of town, San Miguel and Talk 'N Text have a big game on Wednesday. And, I'm not sure what we can get done in one practice," the coach said.

A rematch of last conference's grind-out finals will be made spicier by the fact that SMB and TNT will also be competing for the last twice-to-beat incentive Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

The KaTropa are looking to save themselves from wasting a 7-0 start by dispatching the Beermen to end a three-game slide and grab the last incentive, while San Miguel will be looking to put a tumultuous weekend behind by joining NLEX, Meralco and Barangay Ginebra in the top four.

A cancelled tune-up game with a Taiwanese pro club beset with injuries also gave Cone and Gilas more reasons to choose rest over a practice with an incomplete pool

"[T]hey were supposed to come here and do a series of games, but their two main players got injured, and they decided to back out. Not just from us but from other teams as well. So they didn't come on over," bared Cone.

"If we're not gonna play, we might as well let the guys really rest and get ready, get through the quarters so that they can put their total focus on Gilas and the SEA Games."

Cone expressed some concern over the fact that Gilas will have one less practice to work with, although he's confident about the team's ability to pick it up quickly once they hold consecutive practices from Nov. 28 onwards.

"It's always a concern, one less," Cone admitted. "But again, their focus is somewhere else, their energy is being reserved for something else. That's why I'd like to get this thing, the quarterfinals, done, and then we can really focus in on the SEA Games.

"And, it's always a difficult situation. You make the best you can out of it, and I trust the guys, I trust our players that when the time comes, they'll be ready. And they got a feel for our offense, and we just gotta create better habits for our defense. An hour and a half of practice, and then a week and a half off won't do that for us. So I don't wanna just practice just for the purpose of showing up and saying we practiced. I mean, if we're gonna practice, we're gonna practice with a purpose."