MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas is eyeing an earlier start to its preparation for the third window of the FIBA 2021 Asia Cup qualifiers to be held in Clark, Pampanga next February.
After only about a week's preparation for the second window last November, head coach Jong Uichico sees at least a month of preparation for February where Gilas Pilipinas will be going up against Indonesia and South Korea.
"We expect another bubble training [camp], when and where is still the question but we will start in early January," said Uichico during an online press conference on Thursday.
"So that we can get together for a longer period of time that gives the system [time] to mature, the players to mature… Get everything on track," he said.
Uichico led an all-cadet Gilas Pilipinas squad to two wins in the second window in the Bahrain bubble, with two thrashings of Thailand.
This time, however, it might be a bit more challenging with Rajko Toroman's much-improved Indonesian side and South Korea who always proves to be a difficult task for Gilas Pilipinas.
The national team head coach, however, sees that the Filipino ballers will still have the edge over Indonesia, especially after their experience in Bahrain.
"I think an advantage that we have also is we know Coach Rajko's system," Uichico said of their matchup against Indonesia whom they last played in February.
"The players [also] already have experience in two games in Bahrain and that would help us with their maturity coming into window three," he added. "I think we'll do a pretty good job."
With the PBA season not expected to be back until April, Uichico will have the luxury of having professional players in his pool this time, in addition to the young guns who have proved their worth in Bahrain.
Regardless of who the eventual lineup is, Uichico believes that the Gilas players will step up against the stingy Koreans who have long tormented the national team program.
"When it comes to Korea… I think they'll take it as a challenge," he said.
Gilas Pilipinas will play South Korea twice in the window on February 18 and 22. They will face Indonesia in between on the 20th.
The Nationals will have home court advantage in the third window, expecting to play in Clark, Pampanga along with the rest of the Group A and Group C games for the February window.
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