Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin admitted that it has been a challenge for the coaches teaching the younger players invited to Gilas Pilipinas’ training camp at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Ten new faces have joined the pool that’s preparing for a tough grind ahead. The players have the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ third window and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament — both in June — lined up for them.
The new ones are Ateneo High School standout Lebron Lopez, FEU’s RJ Abarrientos, UP’s Carl Tamayo, and Ateneo’s Kyle Ong, Gian Mamuyac, Jason Credo, Joshua Lazaro, Troy Mallillin, Geo Chiu, and SJ Belangel.
Also among the newcomers are Jordan Heading and Tzaddy Rangel, both picks from the Gilas round of the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft.
“It is really, really hard work for coaches, and it’s probably unlike anything most of us have really tried to wrestle with,” the multi-decorated bench tactician told The Game on One PH, Monday evening.
It’s a welcome challenge, though. Baldwin said that the players they have brought into the training camp — otherwise known as the ‘Calambubble’ — have the potential to become members of Gilas in the future.
“Not only is this the youngest Gilas group ever assembled, it’s probably the youngest that could be assembled that’ll still be called Gilas. If we went any younger, we could be calling them Batang Gilas.
“But you know everybody that we brought in here, I believe, is in some way a prospect for Gilas in the future if they fulfill their potential — if they work to become the player that they are promising to be,” he said.
And all the coaches are willing to do the tough work of teaching, since the program will reap the benefits later on.
According to Baldwin, they aren’t only looking to form a squad for the June games. They have also been laying the foundation of the international game’s intricacies for these young players during future Gilas duties.
“Obviously we’re looking for a Gilas team to play in the June competitions, but we’re also preparing for those situations in the future when we call players into the Gilas camp. And you know, as it is right now, there are so many players who come in and they just don’t, I guess, have an idea of the international game and concepts and the level of skill, and the level of intensity,” he said.
“So if we can begin the process of teaching these younger players what that is all about, that really helps us in the future — not having to deal with sort of elevating the level of intensity and the level of understanding of our players when they come in in the future. So we’re trying to kill a lot of birds with one stone, if you will, and so far, so good.”
Baldwin stressed how different of an animal the international game really is, thus the importance of preparing the young ones as early as possible. They are actually being tough on them, he said, as part of the process.
“I don’t care how experienced, say, a PBA player is. If they haven’t had international experience, it’s a different animal. And it requires a different approach, it requires different coaching; it requires a different level of training intensity and sustained intensity. And you know, when you bring players in who aren’t used to that, the age doesn’t matter. Really,” he said.
“It’s learning how to do that so you properly prepare yourself for the level that you’re going to face. When you’re gonna face a Serbia or a Dominican Republic, it just doesn’t get a lot tougher in the world than that. So we have to be super prepared and we have to be as tough as we can on these players, and so far we’re being pretty tough on them.”