No homecourt edge this time
THERE was an abundance of well-intentioned buzz on social media about the final list of candidates for the Gilas Pilipinas national basketball team pool preparing for the next Fiba Asia tournament in September.
Top of the list of hot topics, of course, were the decisions of two-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, versatile forward Marc Pingris and point guard LA Tenorio to not join the pool.
All three were part of coach Chot Reyes’ Gilas team that finished second in the 2013 Fiba Asia and went on to play in the World Cup in Spain the following year.
Fajardo opted to rest an injury, Pingris wanted to spend time with his family, while Tenorio claimed fatigue as the reason for begging off.
While it is sad that the three prized veterans will not be around to lend their expertise and experience, the present Gilas team will just have to make do with what is available and under the pressure of a short preparation plan.
There are tournaments lined up for the team in Europe, Chinese Taipei and one pocket version in the Philippines to give coach Tab Baldwin an opportunity to establish his style of play and get to know the players more intimately.
It will never be easy to trim down the lineup to the final 12 but a team has to be formed given the parameters and circumstances that surround it. Moreover, this unit will have to embrace the team concept being espoused in order to have a fighting chance for the lone slot for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
In this Fiba Asia, the Philippines will not enjoy a homecourt advantage. There will be no large-crowd “sixth man” to boost the spirit of this team. At best, Filipinos will follow the action on TV or on social media and hope for the best against Asia’s best.
This Gilas team has its work cut out for it, as the odds are huge and intimidating. But if there’s one thing this team can learn from 2013 and all the current challenges facing it, strong collective fighting hearts can overturn the most daunting adversity.
“Puso” (heart) will have to be reinstalled as the battlecry of the 2015 Gilas team.
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