March 30, 2016
Countdown to Manila OQT: 98 days
After Calvin Abueva ran the wrong play during a four-man fastbreak drill Monday night, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin, who was on the other side of the court, told him, “Weave, Calvin. Listen.”
Later, during the five-on-fives, Baldwin told Gabe Norwood, “Get on the rim, Gabe,” asking the wing man to be aggressive and take it strong to the hole after a ball screen.
Baldwin then asked the squad to huddle up, and reminded them to be very quick in anticipating hand-offs.
“In the hand-offs, we’re not being patient. You’re not letting the ball come through you.”
Gilas also ran one of their staple offenses, and Baldwin told the batch running the play to remember their spots on the floor.
“This is simple stuff. Just understand where you’ll be,” he said. “We used to play international (basketball) better.”
It was just some of more than a dozen times Baldwin interrupted drills to hand out reminders to the squad that Monday night. With less than a hundred days left before the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament tips off at home, Baldwin wants razor-sharp focus from his squad, and attention to fine details.
“(I was) teaching new stuff that requires a little bit more teaching, talking. One of the things that is dangerous when you’re coaching in this type of scenario is that when players become robotic because we are not doing, across the board, the whole basketball system that we will use,” Baldwin said.
“We are focusing primarily on offense so it becomes repetitive. And when it becomes robotic, they lose the detail. (So from time to time I am) pulling them together, reminding them of detail issues is what it’s all about. It’s just making sure every time a group goes out there, they’re aware of the detail and making it all right. That is what’s going to work (for us) in the end anyway. It’s not the design, it’s the nuts and bolts.”
Baldwin said in the past Gilas has to take advantage of the longer time together, and it was one of the things he emphasized Monday. He is looking for more progress, and it starts with paying attention to the even the smallest of details.
“We introduced a few new things today. We have time to fiddle around and work on some stuff. We are just trying to keep the players interested in what we’re doing. We have to make progress. The more we do these stuff now, the less pressure there will be later on,” Baldwin shared.
“We’re off the starting block but we are not very far from the starting block. You have to be realistic. We are a long way from being even ready to make selections. This is very early days. We understand that, players understand that. I don’t think anybody thinks differently.”
Matt Ganuelas-Rosser added: “This is the highest level of basketball. Trying to get to the olympics. The details are what’s going the make or break us, it the details are perfect, that’s going to help us win. That’s what coach Tab is working on.”
Gilas ended its practice with the usual battlecry at centercourt, and managed to squeeze in some enjoyment after. Assistant coach Alex Compton, who celebrated his 42nd birthday last March 16, was given cakes. Shortly after the last huddle, the team had a wager for a halfcourt shoot-out, which Moala Tautuaa won.
The team is still finding ways to enjoy practices, but the task at hand is what’s more important. With the upcoming tournament a once-in-a-blue moon, make-or-miss shot at making the Olympics, the team is trying to build an ultra-specific plan.
“We want all of our practices to be good. And we keep talking about, it is a challenge in this environment to have really good practices because of the non-competitive nature of the practices. So we try to compensate by teaching a little bit more, emphasizing the nuts and bolts, the details. We don’t ever want to have a practice walking out and saying it’s a waste of time. Tonight, it was okay,” Baldwin said.
“I think that is how it is going to be. Every possession is going to be big. The games are short, 40 minutes rather than 48. That’s a thing a lot of us have learned. We have a lot of international experience in this gym. We just have to cherish every possession,” Norwood added.