Even with new players coming in, national coach Yeng Guiao believes that chemistry is not an issue for the 20-man national team training pool preparing for the fifth window of FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
“It’s still very early… but I don’t think I’ll be having problems in terms of chemistry and cohesion,” said Guiao during Monday’s practice at the Meralco gym in Quezon City.
“The left over chemistry from the fourth window and the Asian Games is still there, and the new guys coming in are very absorptive on the plays. They’re very quick to make the adjustments.
“I know they’re coming from different systems and different styles, but the system (we have) is very simple anyway. So they can adjust easily even on our first day,” he added.
A total of 12 players showed up at the first day of practice as Guiao conducted almost two hours of scrimmage.
Present on the first day of practice were San Miguel Beer players June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos, Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, TNT’s Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario, Poy Erram of Blackwater and Matthew Wright of Phoenix Fuel.
Gilas cadets Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero also attended the training session.
“I’m feel blessed to be part of the training pool,” said Sotto, the 7-foot 16-year-old center who is in his first stint with the men’s pool. “I know I’ll learn many things with coach Yeng and the PBA players.”
SMB’s Christian Standhardinger and NorthPort’s Stanley Pringle failed to join the first day of training. Pringle is set to arrive from the US on Thursday while Standhardinger is still recovering from a bum stomach.
Six other players missed the first day, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Greg Slaughter, LA Tenorio, Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson, as well as Paul Lee and Ian Sanggalang of Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok since their teams are in the semifinal series of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Their absence, according to Guiao, is what concerns him since he wants to practice with a full unit and see the performance of all the 20 players before he trims it down to 15 before the national team plays two exhibition matches against Jordan on Nov. 19 and 20.
The fifth window of FIBA World Cup qualifiers will have the national team meet Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Philippine Team is currently at third spot in Group F with a 5-3 record behind Australia’s 7-1 card and Iran’s 6-2 slate, and ahead of 4-4 Japan, 3-5 Kazakhstan and 2-6 Qatar.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio also dropped by at the gym with Antipolo City Cong. Robbie Puno as he spoke briefly to the players during a meeting prior to the scrimmage.