MANILA, Philippines—Coach Yeng Guiao has asked the national team players to be ready to make more sacrifices, as they juggle their responsibilities with Gilas Pilipinas and their mother teams in the PBA.
Several of the players in the national team pool are also key members of playoff-bound squads in the PBA, and Guiao knows that their loads will get heavier when the 2019 Commissioner's Cup playoffs start this weekend.
However, he is hoping that they will make an extra effort to be present for the national team, especially with the arrival of naturalized Filipino center Andray Blatche.
“We’re asking the rest of the guys to make an effort. I know they’re in their important stages of the playoffs, but that’s part of the sacrifice," said Guiao after Monday's practice at the Meralco Gym, which saw Blatche take part along with 13 other players.
“What’s important is we need to have at least 10 to 12 players every practice so we can go up and down and practice offense and defense. Kung kulang kami ang hirap mag-practice na may ano eh, may contact," he added.
They are thus appealing to the national team players to keep showing up in practice, especially as they are still limited to twice-weekly training sessions.
Every day counts for Gilas, particularly for Blatche who is trying to get in better shape.
“We’re looking forward for him to get even better and sharper and quicker,” said Guiao, who was satisfied with Blatche's conditioning upon his arrival.
Still, Guiao said a priority for them is getting Blatche extra days of practice; he will join the NLEX Road Warriors once they return to work on Monday morning.
They hope to start daily practices once the Commissioner’s Cup finals start, and more players become available.
“Once the finals start, I think we can already start practicing on a daily basis kasi yung dalawang teams na lang sa finals ang mag-i-skip ng practice," said Guiao.
“But I think by that time we can have enough players practicing so that we can have good practices and we can go up and down and practice defense already by that time.”
The players themselves acknowledge the difficulty of balancing their responsibilities with their mother teams and Gilas Pilipinas, yet at the same time, they knew what they were getting into.
“Personally, it’s kind of what I’ve gotten used to," said Gilas veteran Gabe Norwood. “But I think people underestimate the mental drain that it can take on us. At the end of the day, you wanna win a championship in the PBA, and I think you got eight teams out there trying to push and do that.”
“And at the same time, you wanna make the country proud. So it’s just a balancing act in terms of getting rest, mentally and physically, and really just being able to come in here with a clear mind and try maximize the day," he added.
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