Weekly Gilas practices are better than nothing, says Baldwin

MANILA, Philippines – As always, you make the most of what you’re given.

Head coach Tab Baldwin admitted that while he would certainly prefer more opportunities for Gilas Pilipinas to meet and practice, he appreciates the once-a-week set-up right now, happily taking the opportunity to make progress however small it may be. 

“Not as much (I can accomplish) as I would do with two a week, and not as much as I would do with 10 a week. But we’ll take it and we appreciate the opportunity to work with the guys. All progress is important progress,” the American-Kiwi coach said.

“Athough we will not be going forward at a rabbit’s pace, we’ll be something better than a snail’s pace. We do appreciate the opportunity to make progress and get these guys together.”

The Philippine national men’s basektball team convened Monday night, November 9 for the first of about 25 Monday sessions they will set aside for Gilas practices throughout the PBA’s 41st season.

Fifteen of the 17 men from the PBA player pool participated in light drills and workouts as Calvin Abueva was allowed to rest coming off a two-game PBA schedule in Dubai, while Ranidel De Ocampo is still recovering from a back injury. (IN PHOTOS: Fajardo, Slaughter lead Gilas pool's first practice for OQT)

“It’s good to see the cream of the Philippine basketball crop on one basketball court at one time,” said a “one hundred percent” satisfied Baldwin. 

Though he can’t deny the fact that training in the middle of the season means restless, absent minds. 

“It really depends on the guys. Now we’ve got them in the gym, on the court. They are distracted by their PBA season and that’s only right, that’s only fair because it’s a high priority for them,” he explained. 

“So when you don’t have a captive audience, you’re not going to get as much done as when you had a captive audience. But these are the compromises that the PBA is making for Gilas and Gilas is making for the PBA players. It’s fair.

“I’m happy we have what we have, we’re going to make the most out of it. There are a lot better scenarios but we’ll take this one.”

Gilas, which can begin training full-time after the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup ends around mid to late May, is preparing for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) by July next year where they will try to salvage a 2016 Rio Olympics berth. (READ: Baldwin hopes Gilas Pilipinas gets homecourt edge for OQT)

De Ocampo still uncertain 

Gilas will also have to make do without injured veteran De Ocampo as he recovers from a herniated disc.

According to Baldwin, it is still uncertain when or if De Ocampo can return to the team. If in case the seasoned veteran drops out, Baldwin said he will find a replacement for the pool. 

“His condition is improving but it’s one of those things that’s indefinite as to where it will get. He doesn’t know, we don’t know. We’re supporting him in his rehabilitation,” he shared. 

“We pray for him, we hope that he’s back to a hundred percent. He’s very keen. I talked to him and he said ‘I’m sick of this, I’m tired.’ I told him he’s getting fat and get back to work,” Baldwin added joking before turning serious again.

“But we have to be very careful with it, he has to be very careful with it. We’ll see. Probably I’m guessing a couple months away before we’ll know whether he’ll ever be back to Gilas level again.” – Rappler.com