Lee, De Ocampo eager to join Gilas

The availability of Ranidel de Ocampo and Paul Lee to join Gilas Pilipinas would depend on their recovery from injuries, which for national team coach Tab Baldwin is the most important thing.

The two are part of the 17-man national team training pool of Baldwin, which already started a once-a-week practice session last Monday at the Meralco gym in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Lee showed up last Monday but did not participate in the drills.

The 6-foot Lee is still undergoing therapy after a PRP or Platelet-Rich Plasma procedure to repair a partial tear on the lateral meniscus and ITB (Iliotibial Band) tendon on his left knee.

“Siyempre masaya na napa-sama ulit sa Gilas,” said Lee, who played for Gilas 2.0 during the FIBA World Cup in Spain and in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea both held last year.

Lee has already missed three games with Rain or Shine in the PBA Philippine Cup, although the Elasto Painters have remained unbeaten despite missing the services of their top point guard who may be available the end of elimination round or by second week of December.

On the other hand, the 6-foot-5 de Ocampo is also recuperating from a herniated disc he sustained late last month from lifting weights during the practice session of Talk ’N Text.

He spent almost a week at the Makati Medical Center, but has been discharged Saturday and is now recovering at home. The injury did not require de Ocampo surgery but needs at least two months to rest.

“We hope that he’s back to a hundred percent,” said Baldwin.

“He’s very keen, I talked to him the other day, he said ‘I’m sick of this, I’m tired’, (and) I told him, he’s getting fat, get back to work,” added Baldwin in jest after the practice session Monday.

Gilas missed an outright spot in the Rio Games next year but earned a spot to compete in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) next year and that is what the national team is preparing for. The event is scheduled July 5 to 11 in three different cities.

The country, through the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), will submit its proposal today to host one of the OQTs. Only the winners of the three OQTs will earn a berth in the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Written by Johnny Lugay

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