COACH Tab Baldwin will not have 26 but 16 players in his disposal who will comprise the training pool of Gilas Pilipinas team bound for the FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship in Changsha, China.
More or less the current players who showed up during the start of practice last Wednesday at the Meralco gym are the ones expected to make the pool, with the addition of Alaska stalwart Calvin Abueva and naturalized player Andray Blatche, set to arrive Sunday night in the country.
This developed as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is reportedly trying to get additional pieces for the national team by persuading PBA team owners and executives for another round of meeting and possibly, lend some of their players at the last minute for national cause, according to Spin.ph sources.
Baldwin sources said, is still looking for a legitimate big man and a reliable point guard to reinforce the team seeking to clinch the lone Asian berth to the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
Blatche and Abueva are the among the last additions to the team as the two will appear and join the pool during its Monday night practice also at the Meralco gym.
Currently attending the training Baldwin is supervising are Jimmy Alapag, Asi Taulava, Terrence Romeo, Sonny Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros, JC Intal, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Jayson Castro, Kelly Williams, Aldrech Ramos, Gabe Norwood, and incoming PBA rookie Troy Rosario.
No less than SBP president and Smart big boss Manny V. Pangilinan will personally meet with the Gilas pool in a closed door meeting at 5 p.m. Monday at the Meralco office in Ortigas, where the national team's practice facility is also located.
“Dun natin malalaman lahat if there will be additions and what boss MVP will tell these players and the whole team,” said the source.
“But basically, halos yan na yun!”
Rain or Shine top gunner Paul Lee will be arriving in the country on Monday, but his representative Lawrence Chongson isn’t hopeful the playmaker out of University of the East will be given the green light by his mother ballclub to join Gilas.
“Sa akin lang gustong-gusto kong makasama sa national team si Paul. Gusto rin ni Paul, kasi bandila natin yan eh," said Chongson.
“Kaso alangan namang talikuran ni Paul ang gusto ng nasa itaas. Dun siya sumusweldo,” he added.
The outspoken Tanduay coach also regretted not having done one major thing when he was negotiating for Lee’s new contract with Rain or Shine.
“Sana pala nung nag negosasyon kami nun, naglagay ako ng clause sa kontrata gaya ni LA Tenorio nuong araw sa Alaska na bibigyan siya ng permiso na lumaro sa national team,” Chongson said.
“Kaso kilala naman ng lahat na all out sa national team ang Rain or Shine eh. Hindi ko lang alam kung bakit bigla nagbago ang ihip ng hangin,” added the former UE Red Warriors coach.
Another source bared the SBP is still trying to persuade Ginebra big man Gregory Slaughter to join the pool, although the 6-foot-11 slotman from Cebu claimed he is still trying to recover from an ankle injury that sidelined him during the early part of the last Governors' Cup.
Slaughter has been very vocal over the last three weeks about the injury that is still being assessed whether it will be up for a minor surgery or not.
The source added, Slaughter has been hesitant to join the training pool since his eligibility might be questioned especially in a FIBA-sanctioned tournament.
“He hasn't played in any major FIBA sanctioned tournament. It's one of the issues, Greg might not be eligible. He knows it, SBP officials know it. He played for Gilas in the Asian Games and SEA Games, but those are not FIBA tournaments,” said an SBP source.
With Lee and Slaughter still questionable, Baldwin is left with only minor additions to the ones who are already attending regularly the Gilas practice.