PINOY basketball fans have started to feel good about our national team training pool now that they have embarked on at least two tournaments the last two weeks.
After a few games in Estonia, the Gilas Pilipinas squad is now campaigning in the prestigious William Jones Cup tournament in Taipei.
In Taiwan, the Nationals coached by American-Kiwi mentor Tab Baldwin will be facing few of the top national squads in Asia that will also see action in next month’s FIBA Asia tournament in China.
With that in mind, Baldwin has been open about being unenthusiastic in playing in this annual basketball gig.
For Baldwin, playing in the Jones Cup has to be on a case-to-case basis and should not be a regular destination when it comes to foreign exposures for the Nationals.
“I would think that this would be something that we would want to leave off of our annual calendar or at least pick the years that we want to go there,” said Baldwin. “We’re going to be exposing our players and systems to the very teams that we’re going to be competing against and there’s some flawed thinking in doing that.”
While Baldwin has serious reservations about the event, he sees no problem joining this year’s tourney.
“When the original campaign was put together, I was not in favor of going to the Jones Cup but there was an existing agreement that we would attend, that we would have a team there,” admitted Baldwin.
“But the fact is we’re going to be attending it and we need to get games. From that standpoint, it’ll be a positive for us to get out on the floor and compete.”
The 57-year-old veteran internationalist assures all the players he will tapping to play will surely give their best despite his openness about being reluctant in this latest Gilas campaign.
“I’m sure that you’re going to get 100% commitment from each player to play in those games for every minute they’re playing. But we’re not going to overuse players we’re not going to overexpose systems in the Jones Cup in order to win games,” said Baldwin.
From the current training pool will come the country’s final 12 that will compete in the FIBA Asia tournament in China where only the gold winner will get the lone ticket to next year’s Rio Olympics.
“I have great respect and empathy for the players that really believe would love to be part of the national program but aren’t. But the fact is we can’t continue to focus on that one. We have to focus on the players that we have. We have to move forward,” adds Baldwin.
NLEX’S ALAS. Team manager Ronald Dulatre of the NLEX Road Warriors sounded optimistic about their chances in the upcoming season of the PBA.
Now entering their second year, the Road Warriors bolstered their line-up by acquiring incoming sophomore combo guard Kevin Alas in a three-team trade that also involved Talk ‘N Text and Mahindra.
While NLEX had to give up dependable wingmen Aldrech Ramos and veteran Nino Canaleta to get Alas, Dulatre believes they still have a formidable cast that can lead them to a better season.
Dulatre said rookie picks Garvo Lanete and Glen Khobuntin would surely fill the void that will be created by the departure of Canaleta and Ramos.
“Maliit nga lang sila ng konti in terms of height pero in terms of skills, sa tingin ko hindi malayo ‘yung dalawang nakuha namin,” said Dulatre.
The NLEX Road Warriors will also set up a training camp in Cagayan de Oro weeks before the PBA opening which is set on Oct. 18.