by Jonas Terrado
Jayson Castro is unfazed with the lack of preparation Gilas Pilipinas had in the lead-up to the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers which starts on Friday with a road match against Taiwan.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes will only get a chance to hone the team’s form upon arriving in Taipei today after holding just three Monday practices due to the players’ commitments with their mother teams in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“This time parang yung schedule napaka-tight,” Castro said. “Wala ganun talaga, kailangan na lang mag-adjust. Para naman sa Pilipinas to e.”
But Castro believes that familiarity can help ease whatever lack of preparation the team faced since the start of the month as Gilas, already assured of reaching the next phase of qualifiers, tries to finish the first round on a good note.
“Actually ilang practice pa lang kami e, at the same time wala ring tuneup,” Castro said. “Buti na lang yung mga (Gilas) Cadets tinutulungan kami na makuha yung chemistry namin ulit.
“Isang advantage lang siguro na matagal na rin kaming magkakasama so konting adjustment na lang. Si Andray naman nakita rin natin na sobrang nagpapakundisyon, which is maganda rin sa amin,” he added.
Blatche has been in town since June 9 and appears to be in good condition ahead of the qualifiers.
Gilas faces Taiwan on Friday at the Taipei Heping Gymnasium in the Taiwanese capital before returning home to host Australia on July 2 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The Philippines is assured of a spot in the second round of qualifiers, carrying a 3-1 record going into the third window.
While Gilas will be missing the services of Kiefer Ravena due to a FIBA-imposed ban, it is set to see Terrence Romeo make his World Cup qualifiers debut after missing the previous two windows to an injury.
Romeo has not represented the national squad since August when Gilas placed seventh in the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon.