Gilas Pilipinas on ‘upward curve’ at practice, says Baldwin
MANILA, Philippines – From a disappointing first practice of the year 3 weeks ago, Gilas Pilipinas quickly turned things around and are now going on an upward curve 4 months before the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila this July.
“It could be better but it is better than it was before. We’re certainly on the upward curve now and the players have a good understanding of what we want to do, and they will respond,” head coach Tab Baldwin said after Gilas wrapped up practice late Monday night, February 29.
Baldwin had 16 players to work with as only guards LA Tenorio, Jeff Chan and Paul Lee sat out, though all 3 were present at the gym. Matt Ganuelas-Rosser did not attend owing to a family emergency, while Ian Sangalang continues to be absent as recovers from an ACL injury.
“(I’m) happy with the turnout and happy with what we got through, what we accomplished,” said an optimistic Baldwin. “They still need a little bit of pushing. They still are months away and the attitude that goes with that is still present but I think we are making strides.”
Marc Pingris injected so much energy into Gilas Pilipinas practice last night. Watch how he reacted when he missed a shot. RapplerPosted by Jane Yvette Bracher on Monday, 29 February 2016
Baldwin, who says each week he offers the players a good amount of learnings to digest, continued teaching nuances, variations, minor adjustments, and defensive situations – including some sets primarily for the guards.
“I think these are the things I’m really trying to prepare the team for so that when we commit to that full training period, they’ve already been introduced to all of that,” he explained. “So there will be a lot less time standing around and talking about things, and a lot more time spent working on things.”
Preparations will kick into full gear around late May after the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. Though nothing is finalized yet, Gilas is looking to have a training camp in Europe.
“We want to get some quality games against the same-level caliber of teams we’re gonna play here in the OQT but we don’t want to play the same teams,” Baldwin said during a Facebook Live interview with Rappler.
Extra bodies at training?
Former FEU star Mac Belo joined Gilas practice on Monday with teammate Roger Pogoy likewise expected to participate in coming weeks after he heals his hamstring injury.
The two are the latest addition to the pool that also includes fellow cadets and UAAP stars Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Ferrer. They are expected to inject more energy into practices and relieve members of the team.
Baldwin noted he is not eyeing any further additions to the pool – given they sustain good attendance each week – save for Rain or Shine big man Raymond Almazan. Should he join, Almazan will be the fourth player the team will have lent to Gilas.
“We are in discussions with Rain or Shine. We really respect the fact that there are a lot of Rain or Shine players here already. We know that puts a burden on a PBA team, and we’re very sensitive to that,” he explained.
“But we also weigh that up against every player’s opportunity internationally. The discussion revolves around that. I think we will have a decision from those discussions very soon. I think by next week.” – Rappler.com