AJ Edu only offered praises for the youth-oriented approach Gilas Pilipinas has been taking, believing that the program is heading in the right direction.
“I think it is being handled very well,” the 21-year-old told Radyo5’s Power and Play with Kom Noli Eala, Saturday.
“I think Coach Tab [Baldwin] is doing a great job, and the whole Gilas management is doing a great job.”
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) began taking such an approach back in 2020 with the 2023 FIBA World Cup in mind. It felt motivated to come up with the best possible Gilas team for the prestigious cagefest.
A ‘hybrid’ pool consisting of pros and amateurs came together and saw action in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ opening window. That formula proved effective when the squad routed the Indonesians by 30.
But the men’s team had to go with an all-Cadets lineup for the following window last November. The pros were unavailable due to the PBA season taking place inside the bubble at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
Surprisingly, the young guns aced the test. They beat Thailand in convincing fashion twice in as many games, giving Gilas an immaculate 3-0 record.
Seeing how effective the Cadets were, the SBP has decided to stick with them for the third and final ACQ window in Clark from June 16-20; and in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia from June 29-July 4.
“They were thinking about 2023. They’re thinking about the future, so I understand that you have to build that core of players. And I feel like it’s definitely heading in the right direction,” offered Edu.
“This core of players will build that chemistry, and these tournaments will help develop that experience of FIBA tournaments as well.”
Now, the former Gilas Youth stalwart hopes to become part of the men’s team in the near future. And he has been raring to get such an opportunity.
“I’m hoping I can be a part of that very soon, and we’ll see what the future holds,” said Edu, who made his Philippine national team debut in the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Definitely, I do wanna play for Gilas in the near future. This coming summer might be a little soon since I have just recovered from my injury. But definitely, in the future, the plan is to be part of Gilas.”