GILAS Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic merely delayed his plans of rebuilding the Philippine men's national basketball team.
"It simply just delays it," Baldwin told Coaches Unfiltered on Thursday night. "But we will continue down the same line of believing that we need in order to prepare ourselves better for the international game."
Before the virus outbreak, Baldwin and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) were poised to roll out their plans for a team that is being eyed to represen the country in the 2023 Fiba World Cup here.
Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Allyn Bulanadi, Jaydee Tungcab, and brothers Matt and Mike Nieto were earlier named to the training pool which the federation sought to expose more to the international game.
Members of that pool were already part of the team in the first window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers that bested Indonesia, 100-70, last Feb. 23 in Jakarta.
Baldwin refused to go into specifics but the American-Kiwi mentor assured the biggest focus is building a strong national team program.
"First of all, we've decided as the SBP on a direction that we're going to go, which is to build this program with an injection of youth looking forward to 2023 and ultimately, 2027. That's really our horizon," he said.
"So that, of course, impacts which players will be available, which becomes the governing factor on which players we want to take because we don't have this massive pool of players that we're looking at."
Baldwin testified that with the PBA having the best players in the land, it's still imperative for the Gilas program to tap pro players which, they believe, can complement the system and the existing players pool.
Yet he said one of the goals is to reduce Gilas' dependence on PBA in the long run.
"Obviously, as the years go by, we're going to have some dependence upon PBA players. And to a degree that all or some are available, we will be looking for players that will complement," the Ateneo coach said.
"Maybe in the early days, we'll be looking for the younger players that will complement the PBA player injection. But as time goes by, that role will reverse. We'll be looking for PBA players that will complement what we're trying to do with the young players that we're bringing in to be basically full-time Gilas players."