March 9, 2016
Countdown to Manila OQT: 119 days
While some players in the Gilas Pilipinas pool are nursing various injuries, what’s important for national basketball team head coach Tab Baldwin is to remain focused on the ultimate goal.
Baldwin said on Monday night injuries are simply part of an elite athlete’s career, and he has enough confidence and trust in his players and their respective team doctors.
“We’re going to have to live with that. It’s the middle of the PBA season, guys are going to come out of games banged up a little bit sometimes. It’s just the nature of the beast. Everybody clearly understands what the story is. They are going to play, practice when they are healthy. They are not going to practice if they’re not healthy. End of story,” Baldwin said.
“It’s up to their teams to handle those. We have a lot of confidence in the PBA teams, the doctors, it is within their level of expertise. We have good doctors here. These injuries aren’t new to them. They’ve seen them, they know how to treat them.”
Terrence Romeo, Greg Slaughter, Jayson Castro, Japeth Aguilar, Ryan Reyes, and Paul Lee are some of the senior players in the pool currently dealing with minor injuries, but the situation is not something to cause panic. Baldwin also said he trusts the players in the program.
“They understand how important they are to this program. I’ve talked to all of them about integrity. If the management has an issue with them practicing, which I haven’t heard, but if they do, then it’s up to their management and our management to sit down,” Baldwin said.
“They (players) show up in practice, I will believe them and trust them. If that trust is ever proven to be betrayed then I won’t trust them (again). It’s just the way I am. There are not a lot of second chances in this team. But these guys, I believe in them, I’ve seen them perform, so I don’t have any issue with them right now.”
Cadets just helping team out
Asked about the involvement of Gilas cadets like Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Russel Escoto, and Mac Belo – to name a few – in the team, Baldwin clarified the younger players are just helping the seniors.
“They help us out. It’s not really, we don’t have a motive down the track to turn around and shoo all the PBA players away … there’s nothing like that. They are just here to help us out, they are working for their future, we are supporting them and they are supporting us. That’s fantastic it can be that way,” he said.
‘Raymond’s time will come’
Baldwin also spoke about Rain or Shine’s Raymond Almazan, saying he is fine with the Elasto Painters not releasing the forward right now.
“They are not prepared to release him, and I fully understand that. Raymond has a future in Gilas but it is a very big demand for four players from one PBA team to be given up for even one night a week practice,” Baldwin shared.
“We really appreciate having Gabe (Norwood) and Paul (Lee) and Jeff (Chan) on the pool. We would love to have Raymond but at this point in time it is not going to happen and we are entirely okay with that. His day will come I’m sure and I think it will be sooner rather than later and we will welcome that.”
Baldwin considered Rain or Shine’s struggles right now, and how banged up they are as well, although he also mentioned Almazan will eventually have a place in Gilas.
“They are very extended right now, they did not get off to the best start and they want to right the ship and get their team moving in the right direction. They are dealing with injuries,” Baldwin said.
“I think rather than trying to point fingers, we have to be sympathetic. We have to understand we are asking a lot and they have answered that call significantly. And so let’s be happy with that, appreciate that, and Raymond’s time will come.”