Busy year for Baldwin
TWO YEARS ago in August 2013, the Fiba Asia Men’s Championship was staged at Mall of Asia Arena with the top three medalists qualifying for the 2014 Fiba World Cup held in Spain.
As you all know, the Philippines finished with a silver medal. Iran took the title while Korea settled for bronze.
For us, making it to the World Cup was already an achievement. We were happy, even if we failed to make it to the second phase of the competition, winning only one game against Senegal.
The same competition will be held in Hunan, China, this September, with the champion qualifying for the 2016 Brazil Olympics.
Just what are our chances this time? We have yet to form our national team, now mentored by 56-year-old American/New Zealand native Thomas Anthony “Tab” Baldwin, who replaced former Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.
Baldwin had been a Gilas consultant since 2013.
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According to SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, Baldwin’s task this year is threefold: The Seaba this April in Singapore, the Southeast Asian Games in June, also in Singapore, and the Fiba Asia Men’s Championship, where naturalized cager Andray Blatche is expected to play.
“We’re not sure if Andray would be tied to a contract with an NBA team by the time we start preparations for the Fiba Asia, but we will be making plans with him in the team,” Barrios said.
Otherwise, Barrios said the SBP will just have to find a way for Blatche’s contracted team to allow him to play for the Philippine national team this September.
In 2013, it was naturalized cager Marcus Douthit who led Gilas to a runner-up finish. Barrios is not certain however, if he will be tapped to play in the SEA Games.
“It will all be up to Tab. I still don’t know what his plans are. We are meeting this Friday, to discuss the details, schedules, for the three events, specifically the formation of our team to the Fiba Asia.”
Barrios said the Fiba Asia Championship squad will be composed of PBA players while the Seaba and SEA Games lineups will be made up of non-PBA cagers.
“They will be recruited from the collegiate teams, the Developmental League and the Gilas Cadets.
“Baldwin may opt to field the same lineup for the Seaba and the SEA Games, it will all be up to the Gilas coach, who still has to form his coaching staff.”
Baldwin is a many-time champion, who has coached the national teams of New Zealand, Jordan and Lebanon.
As far as Gilas is concerned, Baldwin will have his hands full starting this year.
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