On Monday night, GILAS Pilipinas began its weekly practice for the sixth and final window of the nation’s Fiba World Cup qualifications and welcomed one of the 24-player pool’s players who was based abroad.
Attendance during the February 13 Gilas Pilipinas practice
In the fourth Monday night practice session for the qualifying window between February 24 and 27, Kiefer Ravena was one of the 11 players present at the Meralco gym in Pasig.
College basketball stars Jerom Lastimosa and Kevin Quiambao attended practice after missing the previous two due to their participation with the Strong Group in the Dubai International Basketball Championship.
The PBA stars present included June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Jamie Malonzo, Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, Raymond Almazan, and Arvin Tolentino. There were three fewer players there than the pool members last Monday.
The other college player who attended practice under the supervision of Coach Chot Reyes and Deputies Tim Cone and Jong Uichico was Mason Amos.
After participating in previous week’s training session, naturalized players Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Roger Pogoy, Carl Tamayo, and Schonny Winston were not present this time.
Brother Thirdy, Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, Jordan Heading, and Kai Sotto—all imports from the Japan B.League—have not yet arrived.
Meanwhile, Jordan Heading and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas had a happy ending (SBP).
Both parties were prepared to move past the thorny issue that revolved on Heading’s choice to play in Taiwan while having an active contract with Gilas Pilipinas because he was incorporated in the 24-man preparation for the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
The 27-year-old Heading, who has since moved his act to the Japan B.League, is anticipated to arrive the practice with the rest of the international pool, including Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos, Kiefer Ravena, and Bobby Ray Parks.
According to Reyes, the Fil-Australian wingman might fill the gap that currently exists inside Gilas Pilipinas.
The 6-foot-2 Heading previously competed for Gilas under former coach Tab Baldwin, averaging 14.5 points while shooting an impressive 72 percent from beyond the arc in the 2021 Olympic qualifying competition.
Although Heading had a live contract with Gilas, the SBP objected to his plan to play for the Taichung Suns in Taiwan’s T1 League after he was selected No. 1 in the Gilas special draft of 2021.
The Suns advanced to the finals with Heading playing a significant role, but they were defeated by Jason Brickman and the Kaohsiung Aquas in a two-game sweep.
He left Taiwan in the middle of the previous year and joined Nagasaki Velca of the B.League Division II.
Reyes noted what Heading can specifically offer Gilas, but he said that the coaching staff will also consider how the Fil-Aussie will fit in with the rest of the pool.
As it continues to get ready for its matches against Jordan on February 27 and Lebanon on February 24, the national team will begin its weekly night practice on Monday at the Meralco gym.