TAIPEI - By this time, Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin has a clear idea on who his Final 12 would be for the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship. But don't expect him to make an announcement anytime soon.
"I do (have an idea), but not all four (cuts). I have some ideas (on the Final 12) but it's not for public consumption right now 'coz things can change," Baldwin said ahead of Gilas' seventh game in the Jones Cup against a US selection on Saturday afternoon at the Xinzhuang Stadium.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is facing a Tuesday deadline for the submission of the final lineup for the Changsha, China tournament set from September 23 to October 3 that serves as the Asian qualifier for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.
However, Baldwin revealed he will likely name two alternates to the lineup and keep this whole team until the departure for China while keeping the option to make changes to his Final 12, which the Fiba Asia allows until the eve of the tournament.
The American-New Zealander also said he isn't keen to make any 'splash announcements' on his final lineup on Tuesday or the next days after that.
"We're not going to be revealing anything anytime soon. You guys (in the media) dream about those sort of things. I can tell you that even if we decide to change, we can still make a change even after you announce the lineup," he said.
"Maybe we'll just tell Fiba and we won't announce it. We'll do what we wanna do, for what's best for the team. I'm not in any hurry to make any splash announcents, there's no need. Just keep this group together, keep them working."
There is no doubt, however, that Baldwin has gotten a clearer idea on his Final 12 based on the performances of the players in this tournament, where Gilas has won four of six games so far and still has a faint chance at getting a championship it last won in 2012.
His point guard rotation is almost set with Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo, while comebacking Jimmy Alapag is in a race against time to be fit for the Fiba Asia championship due to a recurring quad injury.
If Alapag can't make it, Gabe Norwood or Matt Ganuelas-Rosser may likely fill the third-guard option with Dondon Hontiveros having the edge so far over Gary David at the two spot.
Also regarded as shoo-ins to join naturalized player Andray Blatche are Calvin Abueva, Asi Taulava, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris and Sonny Thoss, with Troy Rosario, JC Intal, Aldrech Ramos, Rosser and David likely fighting it out for the final spots in the lineup.
There, too, is the possibility of Fil-Am guard Jordan Clarkson joining the team at the last minute if he gets Fiba clearance but Baldwin isn't keen to talk about it, saying it's 'out of his hands.'
Baldwin, in fact, isn't even discounting the possibility of a newcomer coming in to join the lineup, saying the only thing certain is that Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa will have to give way once Blatche comes in.
But regardless of the options in his hands by the time he makes a decision, Baldwin said it will not be easy.
"This is my team. Cut four guys from this team and it's gonna be tough," he said. "These guys have really bought in to the goal and they know they're underdogs, no question about that, so they know they have to do the extra work."