Baldwin wants all Gilas 3.0 members included in OQT pool
MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin wants to incorporate the members of his 2015 FIBA Asia Championship team into the pool for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).
“What I do plan to do is bring the Gilas 3.0 members who were not asked to join this pool. I plan to bring them in and I want to translate the message of the team that we built from 3.0,” the American-Kiwi coach said.
“The character of that team, the tightness, the bond and the chemistry within that team – I want to transfer that to the next team.”
A 17-man pool comprised of PBA players has already been released and it does not include a few members of Gilas 3.0, namely Dondon Hontiveros, Asi Taulava, JC Intal, and Sonny Thoss. Reserves Gary David, Jimmy Alapag, Aldrech Ramos, and Moala Tautuaa were also not named to the pool.
Gilas 3.0 managed to foster solid chemistry and bond despite just 52 days of full practice ahead of the continental tilt. The PBA honored them during its 41st season opening rites Wednesday, October 21.
“When you change personalities and you change character, you change the chemistry,” Baldwin explained. “And we want to try and re-establish that chemistry we have this year into the team next year.”
“More than the additional talent, we have to have that if we hope to succeed,” he further emphasized.
After less than a year as head coach of the Philippine national men’s basketball team, Baldwin, 57, led them to the FIBA Asia silver medal in China at the beginning of October. He did so despite a crammed training camp and having several top player beg off from the pool.
This time around Baldwin will have more options with the inclusion of June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Paul Lee, Greg Slaughter, LA Tenorio, Jeff Chan, Ian Sangalang, Japeth Aguilar, and Ryan Reyes in addition to the 3.0 members.
Practice schedule ‘a misnomer’
This Gilas team eyeing to win one of 3 Olympic Qualifying tournaments by July next year will begin practicing in November every Monday for 28 weeks.
The early start makes it seem as if there is still plenty of time to practice, but Gilas will still have more or less the same two-month preparation, including a little over a month of full practices after the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup concludes either in mid- or late-May.
“That’s a complete misnomer. We actually will have less preparation time for the Olympic Qualifier,” said Baldwin, who admitted he will have a tough job ahead of him. “We’ll have less practices stretched out over a longer period of time. But that’s the way it is. Let’s not mis-report and mis-characterize what our preparation is going to be.”
“It’s gonna be very difficult given the short preparation time we have and the number of hours on the court we have together. But that’s also gonna be true for all the other teams too,” he added. “We just have to maximize that, we have to get together and work hard and work smart. And not relax at any point in time.”
Baldwin plans to recommend out-of-town training camps as well as bringing in foreign teams to the Philippines for tune-up games.
“Everything is on an accelerated pathway. If we want to succeed, we don’t have any alternative other than to bust our tails every single second we get a chance to be together.”
Baldwin also warned the qualifier will be tougher due to strong competition from around the world as well as the nature of the tournament where the best team in each group of 6 will advance.
“If we did another Palestine, we’ll be out,” he remarked.
He went on to emphasize that the Philippines has no plans of simply competing in the tournament. They are dead set on winning and playing in the Rio Olympics for the first time since 1972.
“Yes, we were competitive in Spain (2014 FIBA World Cup) and that is a testament to what we can achieve and what we can aspire to. But we can no longer get to where we want to by being competitive. We’ve got to win,” said Baldwin, who also welcomes the possibility Gilas will play before its home crowd as the Philippine basketball federation is bidding to host one of the 3 tourneys.
“We shouldn’t be in it just to compete and to perform well. The goal is to make a mark on the world stage and you do that by winning not competing.” – Rappler.com