FORMER Gilas Pilipinas consultant Tab Baldwin added his voice to the consensus that the national team's performances can be greatly improved with ample preparation, rather than simply picking top individual talent and trying to put the pieces together just before a big tournament.
The American-New Zealander, whose name has surfaced as one of the candidates for coach in a reboot of the Gilas Pilipinas program, stressed that preparation is essential for the long-term success of Philippine basketball based on the national team’s results on the international stage.
“When your mistakes or margin of error is so small, I think planning and preparation become almost everything. We can’t radically improve our talent by selecting our players,” Baldwin told Spin.ph after Talk ’N Text’s All Saint’s Day practice at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center inside the Ateneo campus in Quezon City.
“We can marginally improve, but we can’t all of a sudden, grow three inches in every position,” said the veteran coach, who was part of the Gilas coaching staff for the Fiba World Cup in Spain and Asian Games in Incheon.
The Tropang Texters’ consultant explained that unlike basketball powers like Serbia, Spain or even Greece, the Philippines doesn’t have seasoned international players who can compete at a very high level anytime there is a tournament.
“I think for any organization, sporting, basketball, commercial or business, planning and preparation, that to me, is the key to success,” Baldwin.
The 56-year-old Baldwin handled national squads in the past, among them the New Zealand 'Tall Blacks' who he steered to the semifinals of the 2002 Fiba World Cup in Indianapolis, USA. He was also in charge of Lebanon from 2010 to 2011, and Jordan from 2011 to 2012.
He recalled that his preparation time for New Zealand and Lebanon were not that long due to longer professional basketball tournaments, unlike with Jordan.
“Whereas Jordan, they have a break. I think that (break from Jordan’s local basketball league) worked well for us, especially when we had some older guys like Sam Daglas and Zaid Abbas, they got a little bit of a chance to get their bodies right and when they came into the national team camp, they were mentally and physically fresh,” Baldwin added.
Baldwin stressed that the longer the preparation time, the more solid unit the national team becomes when it goes to battle.
“We have to understand the task in front of us. We have to plan forward and the preparation, the timetable has to be extensive and it has to be clever,” he said. "The team has to come out of its preparation to its tour as a very solid unit. It has to be a much better team than it is the talent of an individual.”
Although SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said the national governing body is open in tapping a foreign coach following its decision to form a selection committee that will appoint the Gilas coach and form a new pool of national players, Baldwin declined to comment.
“To be perfectly honest, I’m not part of those (SBP) discussions so it’s not right for me to express opinions when there is an organization who is in charge of that responsibility,” he said.
“If I ever become part of those discussions, I would consult with the board and not with the media on that.”