Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin earlier admitted that it has been a challenge for the coaches to teach the system to the much younger players and new guys on the national team.
Carl Tamayo is from University of the Philippines; RJ Abarrientos from Far Eastern University; Lebron Lopez and Joshua Lazaro from Ateneo High; Jordan Heading and Tzaddy Rangel from Alab; and new Ateneo recruits Chris Koon and Kyle Ong are new faces who have never been under Baldwin.
But thankfully, the teaching has gotten easier thanks to the presence of those already familiar with Baldwin and his ways.
A number of Ateneo players have been included in the men’s pool currently at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba. And even if some of them are neophytes in the program, they’ve been of big help to the mentors.
“It does give the Ateneo players a little bit of an advantage in terms of recognition and comfort — both with the systems and my coaching style,” the 62-year-old told The Game on One PH, Tuesday evening.
One of those newbies is incoming fourth-year guard Gian Mamuyac, who has played a key role in the Blue Eagles’ three-year reign atop the UAAP.
Baldwin said that having the 6-foot-1 slasher in the pool is like “having another coach,” which is a huge confidence-booster for him since he could become the reigning gold medalists’ team captain soon.
“We bring a player like Gian Mamuyac in here, and, you know, he’ll be the captain of the Ateneo team, so he really is like having another coach out there,” offered the former New Zealand chief tactician.
There may be doubts in terms of him cracking the main lineup, but there’s no question over what he’s been bringing in their camp.
And those benefiting the most from his guidance, per Baldwin, are the much younger players in the pool, namely Lopez, Lazaro, Abarrientos, and Tamayo.
“There’s a big question mark over him whether he’s gonna be elite enough to be in that roster, but certainly, from the standpoint of contributing to the environment — the training environment — it’s exactly right. His familiarity and his comfort with what we do, what we’re trying to do, and how we do things, that really helps the other players,” Baldwin said.
“Particularly the younger players,” he added, “because they need as much guidance as they can get.”