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What should be in mind of Gilas bets

GILAS Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin wants his players to realize they are a different breed of players, that’s why they are part of the current national training pool.

And Baldwin’s message came in a rather stern manner when the American-Kiwi guru raised his voice a bit as his players could not execute a simple five-man weave drill, a common exercise in regular basketball practice sessions.

The incident took place Tuesday night at the Meralco gym although nothing escalated after only one sequence of that drill.

Still, Baldwin made mention of what kind of attitude he is expecting from his 16-man training pool that is slowly being bugged by injuries.

“With the national team, you hope you don’t have to use too heavy a hand with players, but sometimes you do,” said Baldwin. “But I’m not overly concerned about having to step in and play tough guy every now and then. They understand the job and the task at hand.”

After two weeks of practice Baldwin sees some improvement on offense but such cannot be said on the other side of the court.

“There is progress. In some things we’re looking better and in some things we don’t look at all like we’re ready yet and we’re not ready yet. We paid more attention to the offense so our defense looks a little bit sloppy to me,” admitted Baldwin.

Baldwin, who first worked as a special consultant last year before being tapped to replace Chot Reyes revealed he is not worried about how to choose his Final 12 that will compete in next month’s FIBA Asia tournament. 

One of his main concerns is how to have warm bodies that will complement naturalized center Andray Blatche, Asi Taulava of the NLEX Road Warriors and Sonny Thoss of the Alaska Aces during their training sessions.

“No question we need reinforcements. Our numbers are thinning out because of injuries. If you have Asi and Sonny out there, virtually with no substitutions and having to go against each other the whole practice that’s kind of a recipe for disaster,” said Baldwin.

Blatche became a casualty of the national pool’s dearth of big men when the former NBA player complained of pain near his groin area during Monday’s practice.

“It’s nagging him. He can’t really extend when he’s running. So because we don’t know what it is, I don’t want to aggravate it any further so I told him to stay out of practice,” revealed Baldwin.

Former Gilas member JuneMar Fajardo, who Baldwin wanted to make as the team’s centerpiece backed out of the pool claiming injury to both his feet.

Another Gilas stalwart Marc Pingris is on vacation but was set to join practice last night, while plans are said to be proceeding in declaring with FIBA Fil-Tongan player Moala Tautuua as the country’s naturalized player.

Under FIBA rules, a foreign-born player with lineage to two countries must acquire the passport of the country he plans to represent before turning 16, which makes Tautuua disqualified from playing as a non-naturalized player since he got his Philippine passport beyond the required age limit.

Still, Baldwin seems excited about the prospect of having Tautuua join his pool.

 “He’ll act as backup to Andray as a naturalized player. Obviously, he can’t play in the roster if Andray is playing, but if something happened to Andray, that’s the direction we would like to go in now with Mo,” said Baldwin.

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