Team Gilas PIlipinas (Photo credits: ABS-CBN News) 

With barely a week to further hone team cohesion and everything, Gilas Pilipinas has shifted its training base to the Inspire Sports Academy as it embarks on the critical phase of its preparations for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

National team coach Tim Cone, along with the rest of the Philippine squad, commenced their training camp at the National University campus in Laguna on Saturday morning, immediately diving into rigorous practice sessions later in the day.

Notable veterans, Terrence Romeo and June Mar Fajardo, were among the early arrivals at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba. Romeo, who last represented Gilas in 2018, is set to make his long-awaited return to the national team, having been a fan favorite since his inclusion in the squad in 2015.

He boasts two silver medals from his previous stints with Gilas, one from the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships in China and the other from the William Jones Cup in the same year.

On the other hand, Fajardo is rejoining the Philippines’ Blue and White squad immediately following his participation in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where he averaged 6.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in five games against formidable international big men like Karl Anthony-Towns.

Coach Cone has devised a training regimen that includes two daily closed-door practice sessions, aiming to familiarize the Gilas players with his system, with only seven days left before the Games commence on September 23. He emphasized the importance of building a solid foundation and mastering the fundamentals of the game.

In a closed-door tune-up game at Inspire, Gilas will face off against the Meralco Bolts, followed by another tune-up against the Changwon LG Sakers at the Philsports Arena a day before the national team departs for China. Coach Cone stressed that, due to time constraints, practice sessions hold greater significance than friendly matches for team development. (AI/MNM)