BY now, we all know that Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin took advantage of the last PBA All-Star Weekend to pick the brains of PBA players as he prepares to form a pool for the next national team bound for the Fiba-Asia championships in China this September.
"I came here to have the opportunity to sit down with as many of the players (who were here), just to talk about Gilas, talk about the experience and their interests," Baldwin, who arrived in Palawan on Friday and left with the main bulk of the delegation on Sunday, told Spin.ph.
Taking advantage of the relaxed mood and a rare time when most PBA stars were bunched in one place, the former New Zealand national coach said he had the opportunity to talk to most of the players on his wish list.
Asked who among the players he talked to, the new Gilas coach clammed up.
"Yes I mind (revealing the names)," he said. "It's part of the process."
However, a check with the players who were in Palawan showed Baldwin spent a great deal of time talking to players like Ginebra's LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar and Talk 'N Text's Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo, which is no surprise since the four were part of the last Gilas team in which Baldwin was a consultant.
The meetings, a source said, also led him to a conversation with San Miguel Beer's Arwind Santos, who happened to be de Ocampo's roommate in Palawan. Santos has made no secret of his desire to play for the national team again.
Sources also revealed that Baldwin had the opportunity to talk to Alaska's Calvin Abueva, Ginebra's Greg Slaughter, GlobalPort's Terrence Romeo, Talk 'N Text rookies Kevin Alas and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, and the four Rain or Shine players who were part of Chot Reyes' Fiba World Cup pool, namely Paul Lee, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan.
Curiously, one player he didn't talk to was Purefoods star James Yap, the two-time league MVP who is enjoying a career resurgence after helping Purefoods win a first grand slam last season.
The 33-year-old gunner, one of the best clutch shooters in the league, mostly spent his time in Palawan with teammates Marc Pingris, Joe Devance, PJ Simon, Purefoods therapist Arcee Cua, Rain or Shine's Chris Tiu, NLEX veteran Asi Taulava and Yap's roommate Reynel Hugnatan.
Yap admitted: "Wala, hindi kami nag-usap (ni Baldwin). 'Di rin niya ko nilapitan."
The Purefoods star, who last wore the national colors in the 2009 Fiba-Asia in China, was quick to say he won't mind if he doesn't get an invitation for the national pool tryouts, adding he will continue to support the national team no matter what.
Then again, having a talk with Baldwin in Palawan doesn't guarantee inclusion in the pool which the Gilas coach said could number in the mid-twenties before being pruned down to 16 in the days leading up to the Fiba-Asia campaign, a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
But if Baldwin didn't talk to a player, does it mean he is not being considered?
Well, that's for us to find out soon. Baldwin said he plans to announce his 25-man pool during the course of the PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs.