IT was a pleasant surprise to see Beau Belga show up in Gilas Pilipinas practice on Friday night at the Meralco Gym.
But national coach Tab Baldwin was quick to deny that he has added the Rain or Shine enforcer to the pool or made him reprise his role as a reserve in the Gilas teams of former coach Chot Reyes.
“We know what the situation is with Rain or Shine and what the opportunities are there, so Beau just came over to say hi,” the American-Kiwi mentor said, referring to the apparent standoff with ROS management.
Rain or Shine, which released four players to the national pool last year, has allowed Gabe Norwood to join Baldwin's pool and indicated it may release Paul Lee as well, but there has been no development on that.
Belga definitely hasn't been given the green light.
“Wala, bumisita lang,” Belga said with a smile before making his way out of the Meralco Gym after the early moments of practice.
Still, Belga's visit should be a welcome sight for a squad that has been lacking in manpower.
“We really appreciate that,” Baldwin said. “I think there’s a point to be made on that. All of these players that are in or out or out or in, I want to see them here. I want to see them come in. These are their brothers here.”
“We are all in this game and I was real happy to see Beau,” he added. “The guys were happy to see him. He just popped in, see what we were doing and wish us the best.”
“I hope they all do that,” Baldwin continued, referring to some players on his wish list who have yet to show up. “They’re all welcome. There’s nobody who feels angry or upset with anybody.
“And I know it would mean something to these guys to see some of the other players that we would like to have here but can’t for one reason or another.”
But Baldwin would also welcome players who will actually play, saying a pool like his is way short for a team that is set to undergo a rigorous overseas buildup for the Fiba Asia championships next month.
“We’ve got to get numbers,” said the national coach, who had 18 players at his disposal on Friday night. “We’re really hurting for numbers and I don’t know if I have a solution for that.”
“It’s kind of disappointing. It’s a setback for us,” he added. “And going into (overseas) camp where generally you expect the knocks and the bangs and the bruises to be more, I don’t know if we have the numbers to sustain that.”
Baldwin cited the US national team, which announced its deep 34-man pool earlier in the day.
“I’m pretty envious of that,” the former New Zealand national coach said. “I know New Zealand had over twenty players. Generally teams are upward of twenty to thirty in their pool. And we’re struggling to get ten out there on the court sometimes, so it’s tough.”
“I’m going to think real seriously about where we’re going to get some help — whether that will be practice players or whether we will extend the pool,” he added. “I think it’s going to be mandatory to do something.”