by Jonas Terrado
Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao is set to name his 15-man pool next week to begin the next phase of preparation for the FIBA World Cup in China.
Guiao is hard-pressed to build team chemistry with less than two months away from the world competition after seeing players come and go in Gilas’ first five practices.
Veteran national team mainstay Jayson Castro and Scottie Thompson have already begged off from consideration, prompting Guiao and the coaching staff to invite PBA rookies CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, and Matthew Wright.
Stanley Pringle and Beau Belga are not in consideration for the pool but the two volunteered to help out the team’s build-up for the Group D matches which starts Aug. 31 in the Chinese city of Foshan.
“We have to work on the team because the World Cup is fast approaching,” Guiao said after the two-hour session. “We have to bring the team together, especially with Andray (Blatche) coming in next week.”
Blatche’s arrival was moved to either July 11 or 12 to attend a court hearing for the custody of his son in the US.
The national team will face Mighty Sports in a closed-door tune-up slated Monday at the same venue at the Meralco gym, giving Gilas an early taste of action with the scheduled pocket tournament in Spain still weeks away.
Wright was the latest player to be invited by Guiao in Thursday’s practice after making a strong impression during Phoenix Pulse’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup wins over NorthPort and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel last week.
He will have a chance to regain his slot with Gilas after being scratched from the decisive sixth window of the World Cup Qualifiers last February.
The recent winner of the PBA Press Corps Player of the Week played the first five windows of the qualifiers.