CEBU CITY – When asked about the reasons for the relocation of Gilas Pilipinas’ training camp from Manila to down south, head coach Tab Baldwin had a ready answer.
“No traffic,” the outspoken Gilas mentor said with a grin.
“As you all know, Manila is not the easiest place to get around in and when you have 14 guys coming from 14 different homes, all trying to get through the traffic and you’re trying to go twice a day, well that means that these guys could be sitting in the car for up to four hours a day, it doesn’t make sense,” shared Baldwin of the team’s decision to bring the final leg of its Fiba Asia buildup over to Cebu.
These days, gone are the several-hour road trips, replaced by a leisurely five-minute trip from their hotel to their base camp here in Cebu, the Hoopsdome.
It's a relief for Baldwin.
“So we get to spend our day working and resting, instead of fighting through traffic,” added Baldwin.
A break from the Manila’s rigorous gridlocks is not all that the team is enjoying as well.
“To be blunt, it’s absolutely unfair to our families but it also takes us away from distractions of daily life and everything else that you have to deal with when you’re at home. Coming here relieves us all of that,” said the American-New Zealander.
While Baldwin and Gilas have been enjoying traffic-free rides these days, the same cannot be said of the road to the 2016 Olympic Games as the team is set to compete in the Fiba Asia Men’s Championship, where only the winner will get a ticket to Rio de Janeiro.
“The camp is really all about hard work, mentally and physically and continuing to build the strength of the word team," said Baldwin, who led New Zealand to the semifinals of the 2002 Fiba world championships in Indianapolis.
"Philippine basketball has always been known for excellent individual skills and we have that. But the desire of this team and its staff is to mold these talented individuals into as strong a team as possible because this is an extremely difficult competition that we’re going to.”