Little time to form Gilas Pilipinas hounds Tab Baldwin
As usual, time again poses as the great obstacle in the preparation of the Gilas Pilipinas squad for the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship.
With the PBA Governors’ Cup still to finish its semifinal series, new national coach Tab Baldwin could have as little as five days to assemble the team before its first scheduled practice on Aug. 1.
If the championship series of this PBA conference goes the full seven-game route, the league could end its 40th season only on July 26, with Baldwin having already told the PBA that he would want to have his first practice session at the start of next month.
But before that, Baldwin would have to identify the members of the new national pool, with Baldwin still to talk to San Miguel Corp. boss Ramon S. Ang about the players he wants.
Baldwin, who steered Jordan to a runner-up finish in the Fiba Asia in 2007 behind regional power Iran before finding his way to Philippine shores through Chot Reyes, has already won one championship for the country—the recent Southeast Asian Games.
The tournament most countries in the Fiba Asia field play to hone up, the Jones Cup in Taipei, will be staged from Aug. 29 to Sept. 6. The Philippines won the Jones Cup the last time it played there, nipping the United States in its final game in one of the most exciting conclusions of the annual event.
LA Tenorio was named MVP that year, and the nucleus of that squad went on to carry the colors for the Philippines in finishing second to the Iranians and Hamed Haddadi in the Manila Fiba Asia that sent the Philippines back to the World Cup.
This year’s Fiba Asia Championship, which will determine the lone Asian representative to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil, will be held in China from Sept. 22 to Oct. 3.
To qualify for Rio de Janeiro, the Filipinos will have to go through powerhouses Korea, China and Iran, though not in that order.
The Philippines made it to a light bracket in China, drawing Palestine, Kuwait and either Hong Kong or Mongolia for group play before things get tougher in the next round.
So far, Baldwin has remained tight-lipped on who he will be named to the national pool, though there are some names who are obvious choices, like San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee.