By JONAS TERRADO
Expect no letup from members of the Gilas Pilipinas pool as they look to make a good impression in the next few days before coach Yeng Guiao decides on his final 12 for the FIBA World Cup.
Practice sessions have been stretched from two hours to three last Monday before taking on Australian club Adelaide 36ers in a pair of tuneup matches on Friday and Sunday at the Meralco Gym.
The extended practice hours coupled with the games opposite the 36ers hold the key in Guiao’s decision to fill up his roster for the global cage competition which opens Aug. 31 in China.
Guiao said only two slots are up for grabs heading into the final phase of preparation for the Group D matches against Italy, Serbia and Angola.
“They will be crucial, especially for the last two slots, also for our final adjustments. That’s how important it is,” Guiao said referring to the final set of exhibition games.
Monday’s practice saw the absence of June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, who played in the recent PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals which San Miguel Beer won in six games over TNT KaTropa.
While disappointed that the three weren’t able to show up as he had hoped, Guiao understands the need for them to get as much rest as possible.
“Maybe they know how their bodies feel so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
But the same session also witnessed ankle injuries that hit Matthew Wright and Poy Erram.
Wright’s injury appears to be serious after he was listed as day-to-day with apparently inflamed peroneal tendon. Wright had participated in the early portion of practice but had to sit out the rest to have his ankle checked.
Erram, meanwhile, rolled his left ankle after trying to block a shot, though Guiao said that the center only suffered a regular sprain.