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    This early, Baldwin's preparing top Gilas prospects for international game

    Mar 23, 2021
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto | UAAP | Fiba.basketball

    SAMAHANG Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) program director Tab Baldwin said putting together the youngest national pool ever assembled will benefit Gilas Pilipinas, both for the short- and long-term.

    The latest pool currently training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna included high schoolers like Ateneo's Lebron Lopez and Josh Lazaro, as well as incoming college freshmen like Carl Tamayo of University of the Philippines and RJ Abarrientos of Far Eastern University.

    "Not only is this the youngest Gilas group ever assembled, it's probably the youngest that could be assembled and still called Gilas," Baldwin told The Game.


      The training camp, which also included prospective naturalized player Ange Kouame, Gilas draftees Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, and twins Matt and Mike Nieto, and key holdovers Dwight Ramos and Justine Baltazar, just to name a few, kickstarted preparations for three overseas tournaments this year.

      However, Baldwin said he is also using the camp to build the foundation for prospects who likely will be called up to the Gilas program in the future.

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      "Everybody who we brought here is someway a prospect for Gilas in the future if they fulfill their potential and if they work to become the player that they are promising to be," said the Gilas program director.

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      "Obviously we're looking for a Gilas team to play for the June competitions, but we're also preparing for those situations in the future when we call players to the Gilas camp. So many players come in and they just don't have an idea of the international game, and the concepts, and the level of skills and level of intensity.

      "So if we can begin the process of teaching these younger players what that is all about, that really helps us in the future not having to deal with sort of elevating the level of intensity and level of understanding of our players when they come in the future."

      That rings true even for the seasoned PBA players who Baldwin said had to go through a learning curve adjusting to the international game from what they were accustomed to in the local pro league.

      "When you bring players in who aren't used to that, the age doesn't matter really. It's learning how to do that, so you properly prepare yourself for the level that you're going to face," he said.

      "I don't care how experienced a PBA player is. If they don't have international experience, it's a different animal, and it requires a different approach, different coaching, different training intensity and sustained intensity."

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        That's why as hard as this training camp is for the cadets, it's equally hard for the coaches to instill those learnings while also preparing them for war against some of the best in the continent and the world.

        "We're trying to kill a lot of birds with this just one bubble stone, if you will, and so far so good."

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        PHOTO: Marlo Cueto | UAAP | Fiba.basketball
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