The upcoming fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers could be an advantage or disadvantage for the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok and Alaska Aces as they prepare for the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals set Dec. 5.
Magnolia and Alaska were given almost three weeks to prepare for the best-of-seven affair due to Gilas Pilipinas’ crucial home matches against Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and Iran on Dec. 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
While Magnolia has Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang as part of the Gilas pool, Alaska will have a luxury of sorts of having no player part of the FIBA window which may be give them fresher legs ahead of the title series.
“I just wanna advice (Gilas) coach Yeng (Guiao) that I think he should take the whole Magnolia team. I think that will b a great coaching strategy,” joked Alaska coach Alex Compton.
Turning serious, Compton is more concerned with his players’ recovery, with some of his key players sustaining injuries during their run to the Finals.
Chris Banchero played through an ankle sprain and a groin injury, Vic Manuel had tightness on his hip, Jvee Casio appeared have hurt his ankle in Saturday’s semifinal clincher against Meralco and import Mike Harris had been cramping in several playoff games.
“We don’t have anybody on Gilas so hopefully we can heal up,” Compton said. “We have some banged up guys, I don’t think nobody got seriously injured.”
Magnolia will start the championship series two days after the qualifiers where Lee and Sangalang possibly coming off from seeing action in the Kazakhstan and Iran matches that are expected to be hard-fought affairs.
The availability of Lee and Sangalang for the FIBA games will depend largely on how coach Yeng Guiao will lean on both players, given that everyone can make it to the 12-man roster with a deep 20-man pool.
For Lee, he considers the dual duty as a privilege rather than an difficult obligation.
“Enjoy ko lang yung moment kesa isipin ko na mahirap o kung anu man,” said Lee, who will likely take part in the two FIBA games given how Guiao has used his former Rain or Shine player in the Asian Games and the September window of the qualifiers. (Jonas Terrado)