It is still uncertain how Gilas Pilipinas will approach its postponed game versus Thailand in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers’ first window, since there is no news yet of a new schedule.
FIBA called off the Filipino dribblers’ meeting versus their Southeast Asian rivals — as well as China’s games versus Japan and Malaysia — due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
“Uncertainties are always a concern when you like planning. And I like planning, I like being prepared. So yes, that is a concern,” said Gilas program director Tab Baldwin.
“But we can’t control the coronavirus. You can’t control the spread of it, you can’t control countries or FIBA’s reaction to it. So we just have to be on alert and do the best that we can.”
What’s certain, though, is the road the program will tread after the window, with the 2023 World Cup as the destination.
Baldwin revealed that the nine cadets — Gilas draftees Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, Allyn Bulanadi, and Rey Suerte, as well as Thirdy Ravena, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, and Jaydee Tungcab — will start training full-time.
Coach Alex Compton, said Baldwin, will primarily handle the players. He will have help from the other coaches such as Topex Robinson, Sandy Arespacochaga, Mark Dickel, and Baldwin himself.
Baldwin added that they will also bring in a European coach, but they have yet to determine who.
“For our Gilas five that we got out of the draft and Thirdy, the Gomez de Liaños, and Jaydee Tungcab — the plan is they would go into full-time training. And they will work with coach Alex primarily,” he said.
“We’re still looking to bring in a European coach. The other Gilas coaches — coach Sandy, coach Topex, coach Mark, myself — if we can, we will join practices and work with coach Alex.”
Baldwin said that the primary goal is to hone and develop players for the international game, while they now build a foundation for the national team in the future.
“The goal is to develop international basketball players. So it’s not really to develop a team at this point. It’s to develop international basketball players,” the decorated coach said.
The program currently has the seven aforementioned players to work with, but the number will grow as it goes forward.
Their plan will benefit not just Gilas, but the PBA as well. It will hopefully result in the national team program relying less on the league when it comes to filling its roster.
The SBP has always worked with the PBA for the national team’s cause, and the league has been supportive, as shown by their adjusted schedules in the past two seasons to fit Gilas’ needs.
“The PBA has been very generous in supporting us. In the early days of this new project, it was always envisioned that we would have a greater dependency on the PBA than we hope to have down the track, which will be good for the PBA because we’ll be less disruptive, and good for us because we’ll have a more professionalized team. [sic]”
But that doesn’t mean that the PBA’s involvement won’t be needed anymore soon, Baldwin clarified
“But it’s not to say that there still won’t be a need for a PBA involvement. If there is, then our partnership with them will continue in whatever fashion is needed to strengthen our team.”