Gilas Pilipinas begins FIBA Asia Cup buildup at Inspire Sports in Laguna

Gilas Pilipinas initiated its preparations for the upcoming FIBA 2025 Asia Cup qualifiers with a closed-door session at the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna on Thursday, Feb. 15.

Returning head coach Tim Cone’s 12-man lineup saw all but two players in attendance for the first practice of the four-day training camp, gearing up for matches against Hong Kong on Feb. 22 and Chinese Taipei on Feb. 25.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio and executive director Erika Dy extended a warm welcome to the team, which included team manager and assistant coach Richard Del Rosario, alongside Asian Games deputies Jong Uichico and LA Tenorio.

Leading the attendees were Japan B.League players Kai Sotto, AJ Edu, and Dwight Ramos, along with PBA stars like Scottie Thompson, Jamie Malonzo, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, Justin Brownlee, free agent Carl Tamayo, and UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao — all key members of the Asian Games gold medal-winning team.

Notably absent from the first day of practice were June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez as the duo is just coming off San Miguel’s title-clinching victory in the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday, February 14.

In a surprising turn of event, Japeth Aguilar made an appearance at practice and could serve as a suitable temporary stand-in for Edu, who has been sidelined for the upcoming pair of games in February due to a knee injury.

While there has been no official announcement regarding Aguilar’s potential involvement, he is well-versed in the strategic framework that Coach Cone is implementing with Gilas.

The 6-foot-9 Aguilar last competed for the national team during the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Joining him at the training camp are Brgy. Ginebra teammates Ralph Cu and Donald Gumaru, adding depth to scrimmages.

Gilas is set to continue closed-door training for the next three days before opening up sessions to media and fans during a sendoff practice on Monday, February 19th, at the PhilSports Arena.

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