ASIDE from Kai Sotto, Scottie Thompson is also out for Gilas Pilipinas in the China pocket tournament as the team braces for familiar rivals Iran and Senegal starting tomorrow approaching the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup here.

Gilas flew to Guangdong yesterday for the 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament hosted by China as both Mr. Sotto (back) and Mr. Thompson (hand) stayed in the Philippines to recover from their respective injuries.

Naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame also did not travel with the squad to prepare for their designated tournaments in the Asian Games and Jones Cup, respectively, while NBA ace Jordan Clarkson will arrive there on Aug. 6.

The Nationals will begin their campaign against Iran tomorrow at the Heyuan Sport Gymnasium.

Gilas then takes on Senegal the next day at the Jiangman En Ping Sport Gymnasium to wrap up the tourney, which originally had FIBA Asia Cup runner-up Lebanon as the fourth team.

Iran is in Group G of the World Cup with Spain, Ivory Coast and Brazil while Lebanon is in Group H with Canada, Latvia and France, both assigned in Jakarta, Indonesia. Senegal missed the World Cup but will prepare for the 2024 FIBA Men’s Pre-Qualifying Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

After the short tilt, Gilas will play Senegal and Iran once more on August 6 (Heyuan Sport Gymnasium) and 7 (Xiaoqing Sport Center), respectively, for additional friendly matches.

Gilas, which is in Group A of the World Cup with Dominican Republic, Angola and Italy, has been through a couple of Asian battles with Iran none bigger than the 2013 FIBA Asian Championship in Manila, where the latter reigned supreme, 85-71.

The Philippines captured the silver medal and in the process booked a ticket to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain for the first time in 35 years. In the World Cup, Gilas scored its first win in 40 years after besting Senegal in overtime, 81-79.

The China trip is the final overseas build-up of Gilas before the World Cup set on Aug. 25 to Sept. 10 here after a productive European trainining camp in Estonia and Lithuania. — John Bryan Ulanday