Despite a number of injuries to its key guys, the men’s basketball national team is ready for its Estonia training camp.
The Gilas Pilipinas is set to fly to Estonia on Monday for a series of tune-up matches against European teams as part of its build-up for the 2015 Fiba Asia Championships in September.
Head coach Tab Baldwin is confident that some of his ailing players would be ready for the trip that would pit them against European countries like Iceland and Netherlands.
Terrence Romeo, who was downed by a viral infection, is expected to return on Monday after a four-day absence while Dondon Hontiveros and naturalized center Andray Blatche, who had to sit out a few practices, have already been participating in drills.
“[Romeo] is better now, but he has no strength at all. He’ll comeback on Monday and he’ll be with us on Monday. It’s good to have him back,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said that Blatche, who was sidelined with an inflamed prostate a week into the Gilas’ training here, is getting better.
“He’s feeling better. He’s positive. We’re hoping for the quickest recovery as possible and get a complete participation from him as we can get because that’s how he’ll get himself in shape,” Baldwin said of the former NBA player. “We saw him participate more. He got up, got some good workout in the day, so the pounds will be coming off.”
Baldwin has admitted that they are “way behind” in their preparations for the Asian qualifiers which dangles a lone berth to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The national team has also struggled to put together a team with the best available talent with some players unavailable for Gilas duties either due to injury or personal reasons.
Key cogs who were named to the Gilas pool like June Mar Fajardo and LA Tenorio have since pulled out citing injuries and dip in form. Marc Pingris has also begged off.
Baldwin is hoping that the Estonia trip would help the Nationals improve and grow with just six weeks to go before the competition.
“These games in Estonia, they might not be very pretty, but the big thing for me is we’re making progress,” he said. “I know what’s going to happen when they pull their uniforms. They’re going to stretch themselves out and play full steam ahead. We want to be efficient. I know we’re gonna put our hearts into it when it counts, but when we’re putting our hearts into it, a lot of times, our mind is not putting into it.”
“At this stage, we need our mind more than our heart. And that might mean we might not play our best, but I’m OK with that as long as we improve and we grow.”