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    Plans for Gilas to play tuneups vs Australia, New Zealand teams up in the air

    Mar 27, 2021
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    CAN Gilas Pilipinas get enough training ahead of its scheduled tournaments later this year?

    With the COVID-19 pandemic, no matter how firm the federation's plans are for the national team, it seems like changes are always needed to be done on a daily basis.

    "We can't seem to bring our plans into fruition," Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) program director Tab Baldwin lamented Saturday on Radyo5's Power and Play with Noli Eala.

    Baldwin admitted that part of the plans for theall-cadets pool is to play games against professional teams in Australia and New Zealand, on top of the proposed Gilas inclusion to the 46th season of the PBA.

    "We planned at the end of this bubble initially to go to Australia and possibly New Zealand and get games against pro teams there as preparation for the June calendar, and that was after the PBA made a kind offer for us to participate as a guest team. Then Australia closed its borders and we went back to the PBA and they're willing to help us again. And then the PBA gets delayed," he rued.

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      "The difficulty is that it's not that we don't have the resources, we don't have the connections to organize games, it's just you can't get anywhere right now. Europe is closed, Australia is closed. We can enter the States but who are we going to play in the States?"

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      Baldwin wants Gilas to not just have friendlies against any other team, but to face real teams competing in overseas leagues.

      That, to him, will really be a good test for the youthful Gilas squad ahead of the killer schedule that beckons.

      The Philippine team is set to play in the third window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup in Clark come June, the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade in July, and the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup in Indonesia in August.

      "One of my conditions is we need to play real teams. We don't need to play composite All-Star teams that are pulled together at the last minute. That's not gonna prepare us against a Korean team that is well-trained, or a Dominican Republic that is well-trained, or a Serbian team that is very well-trained and plays like a team," he said. "If we play these composite teams, I think it's gonna be detrimental to our development."

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      As much planning as the SBP would like to do, Baldwin knows better than they're in a tough position as they approach the situation day-by-day.

      "We just have to bite the bullet again and keep hoping and waiting for windows to open. The big one now is that we can find a calendar for the PBA and hopefully we can use games against PBA teams as development," he said.

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      The SBP and the PBA are in discussions on holding a pocket tournament for Gilas before the games in June, where the Philippines is set to clash against Korea twice and Indonesia.

      The only thing clear at this point is that the current Gilas training bubble ends on April 15, with another one scheduled in May.

      "The plan is to end April 15 in this bubble. We're going to dovetail that into the PBA or an overseas venture for the rest of April and a part of May and come back and do another bubble to do the final preparations for June. But that's all thrown out of whack now," Baldwin said.

      "Our current best plan, which is like Plan F, is take a break, stay on the guys, make sure they don't get out of shape, probably take a 7-10 day break, and come back in the bubble again."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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