With the reveal of the full list of Gilas 3.0 pool players and the first day of National Team practice all taking place yesterday, you can imagine that the media had plenty of questions for Gilas Head Coach, Tab Baldwin. Luckily, Baldwin candidly spoke about a lot of the issues that had swirled around the formation of the team.
Regarding his thoughts on the list endorsed by the PBA, Baldwin expressed contentment of the players he was afforded. “Well, that’s our list, that’s our team. Those are the guys we have here and hopefully for the other guys, their injuries heal, and they get their personal issues resolved.”
“I don’t care who it is. Every single one of us in life, no matter what country we’re from, we’ve experienced personal issues. The way that we have to think about that is to have compassion for those people, and we hope that whatever their personal issues are resolved quickly and positively so that they can rejoin the practice,” he added, talking about the players who were absent in the first day of practice such as June Mar Fajardo, who was resting recurring injuries and Marc Pingris who attended to a family matter.
Baldwin also added that the roster is fluid and his doors are always open to additions to the pool. However, he also realizes that while PBA officials have been working hard to get matters resolved to get more players in, and that there are several issues that can’t be resolved. “We can’t wait forever. Everyday we’re not a full team and we’re preparing means another day that we have to step backwards to move forward if somebody comes in late. Hopefully we don’t do that too much. “
There were also questions about his assistant coach, Jimmy Alapag. Rumors about Alapag’s possible jump out of retirement for another tour of duty with the National Team spread when several of our country’s top guards were made unavailable due to varying reasons. Apparently, Baldwin is open to having Alapag on the team.
“Jimmy’s here to help us out. If you see our numbers dwindle, he’ll keep training. Then, it’ll be my decision, and his decision too, whether he can help us out or not,” Baldwin quipped adding that if more do come in, the PBA legend might not have to practice anymore.
The inclusion of Sinag Pilipinas standout, Troy Rosario also turned a few heads. Baldwin made Rosario’s role clear. “He is not a practice player. He’s in the pool. He has just a good a chance as anybody on the team. He’ll create his own chances.”
Yesterday also marked the arrival of Andray Blatche and Baldwin couldn’t have been happier. “When I see a guy walk through that door and he has to duck, I’m really happy. We finally have one like that,” he said. “He’s moving okay. Look, he’s gotta lose some weight. We can all see that. We’ll get him to the medical testing and we’ll make sure that we don’t put him at risk before he’s truly ready to go. It’s gonna take him a little time to shake off the jetlag and the long off season that he’s had,” Baldwin closed, addressing Blatche’s health as the former Brooklyn Nets Center last played a game in February in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Gilas Pilipinas will continue to practice at the Meralco Gym in the following weeks with dates for tune-up games yet to be confirmed.
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