NATIONAL coach Tab Baldwin has picked 26 PBA players for the new Gilas Pilipinas pool, setting into motion the country's ambitious bid to land a spot in the basketball competitions in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Baldwin declined to give out the names of the invited players who will undergo tryouts either in late July or early August, saying the task of announcing the pool's composition has been given to the PBA.
“It’s in the PBA’s hands now, we’re just going through a few process, but the names are all done. I’ve submitted them to all of my superiors, it’s really in their hands now when they are going to release it,” Baldwin told Spin.ph.
Baldwin bared that his bosses at Smart Communications, the main backer of the Gilas program, have already approved the names on the wish list and he is now in the process of talking to officials of the other ballclubs in meetings arranged by Commissioner Chito Salud.
“I’m waiting on them, I still have to meet with a few of the clubs (Commissioner) Chito (Salud) is setting that up,” he added. “I’ve done my part of it (naming of players to the pool), they’ve approved all the names I’ve submitted, so now I’m just waiting for the right moment for them to release it.
“I could add more before it is released, but I could subtract somebody if I felt like it,” added the American-New Zealander.
Baldwin is confident all of the names on his list will be given the green light by the PBA teams as he sets out to form a defense-oriented team for the 2015 Fiba Asia Championships set in Changsha, China from September 23 to October 3.
“I can’t comment on that (of all of the players will be approved). The ball is now in the PBA board, and that’s how it is always designed to be. But I am very optimistic,” he said.
“I’ve been around long enough to know that life serves you curve balls every now and then. So let’s just wait and see what happens,” Baldwin added.
June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Paul Lee and Jayson Castro are among the players considered as shoo-ins to the squad, which will take over from the Gilas team that finished runner-up to Iran in the Fiba-Asia championships in Manila and won a game in the Fiba World Cup in Spain.
Baldwin said the Gilas style of play will be largely dictated by the materials at his disposal, but hinted that he wants a team that can play good defense.
“It’s (style of play of Gilas 3.0) gonna be some of my philosophy and some of what the talent that is in the Philippines delivers to me,” he said.
Baldwin bared that as soon as the list of the new Gilas pool is made public, he will immediately schedule the tryouts, which will be set right after the Governors’ Cup.
“Definitely there will be a trial at the end of the third conference, when we start the Gilas campaign. I am calling all the 26 in the camp,” said the veteran coach who led New Zealand to a historic fourth-place finish in the 2002 world basketball championships.
“We’ll give the guys a little amount of time off after the third conference. It depends on how quickly the third conference ends. If the finals series is short, we can start earlier. If it goes the distance, July 26 I think is the last possible date, then we will be looking at something around August first.”
Asked if he plans to hold practices between the announcement of new Gilas pool members and the end of the season-ending Governors Cup, Baldwin sais he is weighing all options.
“Certainly we can’t do anything formal, because it is still a trial. But if there’ll be time, I’d be happy to open the gym somewhere and work with the guys who are no longer active in the third conference,” he said.
“But again nothing formal (in those practices), you can’t run it as a trial. You have to wait until everybody is available.” added the former New Zealand national coach.