After a silver medal finish in the Jones Cup and winning the MVP Cup at home, Gilas Pilipinas heads to Cebu in the most crucial week of practice before leaving for China as it gears for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.
Gilas mentor Tab Baldwin said the main points of focus in the week of “seclusion” in Cebu is getting into top shape not only in conditioning but also in terms of maturity on the court and making better decisions as a team.
Baldwin knows the team has been together for only about two months but he wants to improve on all weaknesses of the squad.
“One of the [goals] of this week is now to get us to peak readiness in terms of our conditioning. That does not mean killing [ourselves] but tapering towards the end of the week and making sure our practices go from sort of high energy to high intelligence,” Baldwin said.
“That will be a [glimpse] of how it flows the whole week. We will be refining, we will be introducing new stuff, identifying areas of weaknesses from what we saw in the Jones Cup and MVP Cup, and attacking those areas of weaknesses,” he added.
Baldwin noted being ready for specific roles as all 12 players of the team play an important part in the campaign.
“There will also be establishing confidence. They understand there shall be specific lineups for specific scenarios. They know that so it is not a surprise when I put a particular five out there,” Baldwin shared.
“They will know their roles whether it’s rebounding or energy or defense or pressure or shooting or whatever happens.”
Baldwin said he wants to see Romeo in a more mature role where he is a leader and facilitator of the team. While he recognizes Romeo’s ability to perform in an exciting way, his concern now is bent on how he can put Romeo in a role to help the team succeed.
“We are trying to put Terrence to the other role where he is not gunslinger off the bench. He is here at the beginning to control the team. He’s got a long way to go. That might get the fans excited but it does not get me very excited. I want to win. I am not trying to build reputation through my players or anything else. I want to bring home the gold medal so that this country will be thrilled by watching their team in the Olympics next year,” he remarked of the Gilas guard.
“When he came back from his uncle’s funeral I said you can’t run yourself into the ground now. You’ll injure yourself and we don’t want that. So I said let’s attack your conditioning by starving you. He took that on board and if ever of you has tried that, it is not easy. He was literally on a soup and salad diet since he got back. He had no energy. Not for this Cup. It’s not because he was out of shape. It was because nothing’s going in his fuel tank,” Baldwin shared.
“I was surprised he took that instruction on board because that is tough. It was not imposed on him. He did it voluntarily. It was a suggestion, he took it on board and I hope we will see the benefit of that.”
Gilas is indeed seeing the improvement in Blatche’s overall game compared to when he first arrived, and Baldwin has trust in the attitude of his main big man.
“He shot the ball better tonight and he got some better shots. He is still not getting baseline to baseline in some games. He is working on that and he has the right attitude about working,” he said.
Baldwin concluded by saying Gilas tries “to evolve the system” and “refine and perfect what they are trying to do” as they have about a week left before leaving on September 21 for Changsha, China.
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