After SEA Games scare, Baldwin puts premium on cohesion in next Gilas mission 
Gilas coach Tab Baldwin barks instructions from the Talk 'N text bench. Jerome Ascano

THE Southeast Asian Games reminded Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin of an old basketball adage he has long known – cohesion over talent.

And that’s exactly what he wants to achieve with the men’s national team as it embarks on its ambitious mission of qualifying for the 2016 Rio de Jainero Olympics three months from now.

Problem though, Baldwin’s hands are tied with the ongoing PBA Governors Cup and Gilas Pilipinas won’t really get into the scheme of things until the season-ending conference comes to a close.

“As soon as the third conference is finished, probably after a week by the end of the conference,” said the American-New Zealander when asked when Gilas Pilipinas will start training for the Fiba Asia Men’s Championship slated in China this September.

The pro league won’t finish its season until July, giving the national team at least two months to prepare for the ‘real deal.’

But just like what the recently concluded 28th SEA Games proved especially for the Gilas cadet team, a short preparation for a major tournament just won't cut it.

“Can I just say it’s never enough,” said Baldwin. “It doesn’t matter whether its two months or five months. SEA Games is a good example of that. When you play teams that are together for a season, they’re tough to beat, even if you have superior talent.”

the Gilas cadets struggled to beat Thailand in the semifinals of the SEA Games, 80-75, and then didn’t really secure the gold until the final few minutes of its game against Indonesia in the championship match.

[See Baldwin having hard time getting players for Gilas amid 'brushes' with team owners]

Baldwin pointed out Lebanon and many-time champion China have already started their preparations for the coming Olympic qualifying event.

“This creates a gap between where they are and where we are,” he admitted. “And that means we have to do things a little bit better, a little bit smarter, and hopefully, you have a little bit more talent. It remains to be seen whether we have any of those things.”

With Baldwin putting a premium on cohesion, the veteran coach didn’t mince words that several members of the previous Gilas team will likely make up the composition of this latest batch of Gilas Pilipinas.

“The veteran Gilas players are in large part represented in the pool. I think everybody will be shocked if the answer to that is no,” he said.


[See Alex Compton, two Alaska players eyed to join Baldwin-era Gilas team]

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos