A top executive of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) believed longer preparation – not to mention the best talent – is needed for the Philippines to regain its lofty perch in Asian basketball.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios pointed this out after seeing for himself how the hastily prepared national squad fell a win short of ending the country’s 43-year Olympic quest following its 78-67 loss to China in the recent Fiba Asia Championship.
Compared to the Chinese who trained as a team for more than half a year for the qualifier to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics, coach Tab Baldwin's Gilas 3.0 had to make do with a seven-week training for the Sept. 23 to Oct. 3 meet held in Changsha, China.
Barrios noted how the Filipinos had to take a whirlwind stint in an Estonia pocket tournament and then play in the Jones Cup competition all in less than two months as part of its preparation for the Fiba meet.
“You should prepare them (team) for enough time. Tayo less than two months, alam nyo yung China? Seven months lang naman,” the SBP executive shared during the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate on Tuesday.
For this reason, Barrios got to understand why Baldwin, who he describes as someone with extensive international coaching experience, needed longer time to prepare Gilas for a tournament as major as the Fiba Asia.
“Coach Tab explained to me he has a lot of plays because everything depends on which opponent Gilas is playing. Kung Iran, he has a different set of plays na para sa Iran lang, the same with China, and the others.
“Kaya from that point, I understand yung pangangailangan ng isang coach for a long period of time (to prepare) especially if you get to that level,” stressed the former PBA commissioner.
Despite the limited time to train, the Philippine team finished its campaign with a 7-2 record, winning seven straight after losing its opening game against Palestine, 75-73, before finally running to a brick wall that is China.
Barrios believed Gilas could have done more if it went to war trained properly.
“Personally I was telling myself if Tab had another month (of training) mas may laban tayo,” he said. “The fact that we won seven straight even without that extra month speaks a lot.”
“Kaya ang nakikita kong basic area for improvement is perhaps longer preparation and there lies the problem in the future.”
As for Gilas’ future and the steps the team has to take, the SBP executive would rather not talk about it.
The basketball federation will be having a board meeting on October 8 to report about the Fiba World Cup bidding and Gilas’ campaign in the Fiba Asia.
Barrios however, couldn’t exactly say whether Gilas’ participation in next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be part of the agenda or not.
“Mas gusto ko na munang bigyan ng papuri yung 12 players natin sa ngayon,” he said.