January 24 ------ HALF of the 24-man pool attended Gilas Pilipinas’ initial practice for the sixth and final window of the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers on Monday night.
Naturalized Filipino citizen Justin Brownlee led the 12 players who sweat it out at the Meralco gym as supervised by coach Chot Reyes and lead deputy Tim Cone. This is Brownlee’s first practice with the men’s national team since taking his oath of allegiance to the Philippines as a Filipino last year.
Others present were Brownlee’s Ginebra teammate Japeth Aguilar as well as San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez, TNT’s Roger Pogoy and Calvin Oftana, NorthPort’s Arvin Tolentino, along with college players Kevin Quiambao, Francis Lopez, Mason Amos, Schonny Winston, and Jerome Lastimosa.
Not around were Japan B. League players Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks, Jordan Heading, Carl Tamayo, and Dwight Ramos. Towering Kai Sotto understandably, was also a no-show as he’s currently playing in the Australia NBL with the Adelaide 36ers. Others who failed to show up were Scotty Thompson, Chris Newsome, Jamie Malonzo, Raymond Almazan, and Anj Kouame.
Deputies Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes also joined Chot and Cone in practice, along with team manager Butch Antonio, Yvette Ruiz, and therapist Dexter Aseron.
The practice will be a regular Monday session for the team as it prepares for its Feb. 24 and 27 games against Lebanon and Jordan at the Philippine Arena at the conclusion of the Asian qualifiers.