Kiefer Ravena leads Gilas pool players in entering Calamba bubble

The first batch of players set to compete for Gilas Pilipinas roster spots for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers have entered the training bubble Sunday at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

Heading the pool are players who suited up for the national team in a sweep of the second window of the tournament last November.

Special Gilas draft selections Isaac Go, Rey Suerte and twins Mike and Matt Nieto were joined by Justine Baltazar, Javi Gomez de Liaño, Dave Ildefonso, Will Navarro, Calvin Oftana and Kemark Cariño. Also joining the rest of the pool are NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena and naturalized player candidate Angelo Kouame.

"These young men have not only proven their dedication to the Gilas program but have also shown their capability to work well as a team as we saw in the two games against Thailand in the last window," Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio said in a statement. "I'm thankful for their commitment as we continue to lay the foundation for the team we will form in 2023."

Coach Jong Uichico and SBP program director Tab Baldwin will be calling the shots alongside PBA head coaches Norman Black of Meralco and Caloy Garcia of Rain or Shine, as well as coaches Sandy Arespacochaga and Boyet Fernandez.

Aside from Ravena, other PBA players requested by the SBP have yet to join training, though commissioner Willie Marcial had earlier said that the federation is already in contact with some of these stars.

"As always, we appreciate the unwavering support of PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and the PBA Board to the Gilas program," said Panlilio. "We had very good discussions with the PBA and we were able to get the commitment of several PBA players who will be part of the second batch coming into the bubble training on January 22nd."

The Philippines will play host to two groups for the third window to be held in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga. Gilas, currently leading Group A with a 3-0 card, will play South Korea on Feb. 18 and 22 and Indonesia on Feb. 20.