Baldwin assembles ‘quick’ Sinag Pilipinas, aims for two gold medals
MANILA, Philippines — Tab Baldwin’s first order of business as the national team head coach is to deliver two golds in a span of two months.
A gold medal in the 11th Seaba Championship in April and another one in the 28th SEA Games in June — regional meets where the country is expected to win thoroughly while the rest of the competition fight for second place.
“That’s our goal. Our goal is to win gold and we’re not really going to discuss anything else,” Baldwin told INQUIRER.net late Monday night during the first tryout for the Sinag Pilipinas team which will represent the country in both tournaments to be held in Singapore.
“And you never know what circumstances present to you. It would be foolish standing here at the beginning of March and talk about what’s going to happen in late April but without hesitation our goal is to win gold.”
“We play the Seaba games in late April so we have about six weeks to get ready for that,” said Baldwin, a coaching legend in New Zealand. “That’s good amount of time and then of course we’ve got another six to eight weeks before the SEA Games in June.”
And the first step towards that goal is to build a team capable of winning.
On Monday, Baldwin gathered the country’s future basketball stars at the Philsports Arena. Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng, Troy Rosario and Mac Belo were in attendance among other college standouts who had their work cut out for them for about two and a half hours of fast-paced drills.
The rest of Baldwin’s coaching staff namely Jamike Jarin, Nash Racela and Jimmy Alapag also worked closely with the aspiring national team players.
The 56-year-old Baldwin saw a lot of positives during the workout, but also took note of some aspects the players have to improve on.
“A lot of quickness here and great effort from the kids. Obviously they came here to compete and try to make the team. I’m impressed by that. There didn’t seem to be any guy out there that felt like they already had it made,” he said. “And I like that a lot and they listen, they wanna make the team, they wanna be a good team but it’s still very much first impression to me.”
“There were a lot of negatives, it was sloppy, there wasn’t much efficiency but you expect that when you put a group of young kids together to compete for a place in the national team.”
As much as Ravena, Teng, Rosario, Belo, Ray Parks and Garvo Lanete’s seem like shoo-ins, Baldwin said no player is assured of a spot and they all will have to fight for a place in the team.
Like the other assembled Philippine teams in the past, Baldwin said, this version of the Sinag squad will also be a quick team.
With the Seaba tournament fast approaching, Baldwin said the team will be finalized on Friday.
“So first and foremost is Seaba and I really don’t know what the strengths of this team will be because these guys are very much new to me. Some of them I have seen play but most of them I’m still learning their names,” he said. “So I’ve got a lot of video work ahead of me over the next few days before we select the team on Friday.”
“But I think with most Philippine teams, they’ll have quickness, they’ll have some smart because these kids play basketball since birth virtually and you know we have to be tough to be able to bang inside with guys that are probably smaller than we’ll play against.”
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