TWO PBA coaches agree that Gilas Pilipinas mentor Tab Baldwin will have an unenviable task in naming the final roster that will represent the country in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena next month.
Baldwin will still have to cross off two more names from his 14-man roster that is in the final stretch of its 18-day European training camp.
While naturalized player Andray Blatche is a shoo-in, the fight for spots are tight among locals June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Marc Pingris, Ranidel de Ocampo, Japeth Aguilar, Terrence Romeo, Ryan Reyes, Jeff Chan, LA Tenorio, Ray Parks, and Troy Rosario.
NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez can imagine how tough the decision will be for Baldwin.
“Sa totoo lang, mahirap magsabi kasi lahat sila may role kay coach Tab,” said Fernandez, whose Road Warriors are among the four PBA clubs without a representative in the 14-man pool.
Fernandez said Baldwin’s final lineup will depend on their opponents in the July 5 to 10 competition, particularly group stage foes France and New Zealand.
“It’s a matter of kung sino tingin ni coach Tab (ang bagay sa match-ups),” the NLEX coach told SPIN.ph. “I’m sure coach Tab has already been scouting the other teams, especially France and New Zealand. Kung sino kalaban mo, you’ll prepare your lineup for that situation.”
“Kahit ako naman eh, kung mag-prepara ako ng team ko, ini-scout ko yung kalaban ko para level ako kahit sino bunutin ko, capable,” he added.
France, ranked No. 5 in the world, features NBA and San Antonio stars Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, and possibly Nicolas Batum, while 21st-ranked New Zealand is bannered by Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, Isaac Fotu, and Rob Loe.
Star coach Jason Webb also refused to mention names who could miss the cut, saying everyone is deserving to make the final lineup.
“I don’t, in any way, know what’s going on in practice and I’m not going to try to make it seem like I know what the competition is going to be,” the rookie Hotshots coach said. “But whomever coach Tab picks, I’m sure that’s the best guys that we can have.”
“He’s the one that’s most knowledgeable on how practices go and what the competition is like,” he added.
Fernandez echoed his sentiment.
“I think the thirteen Filipinos there are worthy to be part of the final roster,” the NLEX coach said. “It depends really on the opponent.”
“Hindi naman pwede na kung sino gusto ng (mga tao), ito ang ilalagay ko eh,” he added. “Kung sino capable, yung ang ilalagay ko.”