Gilas Pilipinas is looking to bring in three additional players in practices to ramp up preparations for the upcoming first window the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers even as Matthew Wright withdrew from the training pool.
Team manager Gabby Cui confirmed to ESPN5 on Tuesday that Alaska big men Vic Manuel and Abu Tratter and Rain or Shine's Javee Mocon have been invited to join a pool that has seen its share of losses in recent days.
Interim coach Mark Dickel told reporters at practice on Tuesday that Wright, who has not attended since training began last week, has pulled out. He is now the fourth player to withdraw after Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar and Mac Belo opted out earlier.
Ray Parks and Justine Baltazar have also yet to appear, while Kobe Paras was again absent after showing up in the team's first day last Thursday.
"I'm not too worried about whether they show up or not," Dickel said. "I'm just more concerned about the players that are here."
From the new additions earlier, only Javee Mocon attended as Vic Manuel and Abu Tratter were absent. Mocon could use this invite to improve on a productive 2019 season where he tallied 10.1 points, 6.7 boards and 2.6 assists in 48 games and 29 starts.
"He was great. Obviously a huge admirer of him from the PBA. He plays great against TNT every time he plays us," Dickel said about Mocon. "It was good to see him up close and he's a really good player, well-coached. Great to have him here."
Manuel will be given a second stint with the national team after a stellar showing in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in December. Manuel flourished as a top option under coach Tim Cone with averages of 15.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in the team's gold-medal campaign.
Tratter could also make his Gilas return after being part of the Gilas team that took on Australia during the second window of the Word Cup Asian Qualifiers in 2018. In the recent PBA season, the 27-year-old averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds on 47.6 percent shooting.
"I'm happy because it's Team Pilipinas," Mocon said. "I would never say no. It's a privilege to be considered. It's a blessing in itself even if I'm only in the pool."
Gilas started working on its offensive sets for the first time after going through some developmental drills in recent days, but Dickel said the team is still looking to mix things up even with only nine days left before it opens its campaign against Thailand at home on Feb. 20.
"We're on the fly in trying to do a lot of things at once... It's just trying to speed everything up so we're a little bit more ready come the first day," he said.
"We're getting closer, but at the same time the games are getting closer too. It was good to be able to see our defense against some of our offense. Real positive signs and we gotta build on that."
Nineteen players showed up at the Meralco Gym in Ortigas, Pasig Tuesday evening as the team jumped back into action from a day off.
Present were team captain Kiefer Ravena, Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy, CJ Perez, Poy Erram and Justin Chua. Marc Pingris participated from the sidelines as he continues to deal with a knee issue.
Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Jaydee Tungcab, Thirdy Ravena and Dave Ildefonso were in attendance, as well as Dwight Ramos and all special Gilas draftees in Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, Rey Suerte and Allyn Bulanadi.