By Jonas Terrado

Gilas Pilipinas officially begins its preparation for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers Thursday with an afternoon practice session at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center inside the Ateneo campus.

TNT KaTropa active consultant Mark Dickel. (PBA Images)

Interim coach Mark Dickel on Thursday begins the process of preparing Gilas Pilipinas for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. (PBA Images)

TNT KaTropa active consultant Mark Dickel, who was named last week as coach on an interim basis, will preside over the 12:30 p.m. practice that will see him roll out the initial plans in  Gilas’ bid to qualify for next year’s continental tournament.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas tasked Dickel to call the shots while it continues to search for a permanent coach that can handle national team duties until the country’s hosting of the FIBA World Cup in 2023.

Dickel will have 11 PBA players and 13 amateurs in his pool for the two games against Thailand and Indonesia.

PBA Governors’ Cup Finals Most Valuable Player Japeth Aguilar of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel leads the cast of pro talents that also includes NLEX’s Kiefer Ravena and Poy Erram, TNT KaTropa’s Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Ray Parks Jr., NorthPort’s Christian Standhardinger and Columbian’s CJ Perez, Phoenix Pulse’s Matthew Wright, Blackwater’s Mac Belo and Magnolia’s Marc Pingris.

The 13 amateurs on the pool are Isaac Go, brothers Mike and Matt Nieto, Allyn Bulanadi and Rey Suerte, Thirdy Ravena, Jaydee Tungcab, brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, Dave Ildefonso, Dwight Ramos and Justine Baltazar.
The Philippines is in Group A along with bitter rival South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia. The top two teams after the six window qualifiers advance to the Asia Cup.

Gilas opens its campaign on Feb. 20 against Thailand at the Smart Araneta Coliseum before taking on Indonesia three days later in Jakarta.

Source: Manila Bulletin