NATIONAL coach Tab Baldwin believes a full month of preparation would be enough to whip Sinag Pilipinas into top form for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) championship set April 27 to May 3 in Singapore.
Baldwin is still in the process of selecting the players who will comprise the team bound for the week-long tournament that serves as qualifier for the Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in China this September.
Twenty five of the best players in both the collegiate and amateur leagues were called up through invitations handed out by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
The Gilas Pilipinas mentor hopes to come up with the list of the 16-man pool by this weekend, and hopefully begin practicing together as a team by next week, or at least a full month before the Fiba-Asia qualifier.
The same team will represent the country to the coming Southeast Asian Games also in Singapore in June.
Baldwin said he is not concerned with the short length of preparation for the Seaba, a regional meet that has long been dominated by Filipinos.
“It’s tight but we will make it enough,” said Baldwin after the latest in a series of nightly tryouts he’s been conducting at the Philsports Arena that started last Monday.
The American-New Zealander admitted the selection process for Sinag Pilipinas actually came a bit too late in the day, but he said he understanding that the players also have commitments with their respective mother teams.
But despite the limited time, Baldwin said tapping the right players for the team will be easy considering the abundance of talent present during the first few days of the short tryouts.
“It’s not like we have to go across the border to get help. They have a lot of skills and they understand the game, typical of Philippine basketball. It’s no different from Gilas. They played a lot of basketball and it showed in their natural ability,” said Baldwin, the former New Zealand national coach who steered the country to a semifinal stint in the Fiba World Cup in 2002.
Baldwin said he is happy with how the players have responded during the tryouts, which runs until Thursday before the 16-man pool is determined on Friday.
“They were anxious at the start but they already know what I want. There was a lot more good-decision making, lot more focused on their game. Consequently, there were a lot of players that shone,” Baldwin said.