Baldwin rates Gilas Pilipinas as ‘better but not good enough’
TAIPEI – Andray Blatche was expected to rejoin Gilas Pilipinas on Monday night, and after the Filipinos achieved a lot of chemistry in finishing second in the Jones Cup, coach Tab Baldwin’s next challenge is to integrate his talented naturalized center into the squad.
“Andray comes in again and we have to incorporate everything with that,” Baldwin told scribes before boarding a plane for home together with his intrepid 16 that held its own against bigger foes the past week.
“That’s a process, and it takes time,” he explained. “It cannot be done overnight.”
Blatche skipped the entire Jones Cup after flying back to the United States on opening day to attend the funeral of his uncle, missing a total of eight days of practice, competitive play and bonding time with the others.
He also missed seeing some Fiba Asia foes up close and personal.
“Now we have to integrate Andray together (with the locals),” Baldwin said. “It’s not an Andray show and he knows that, probably more than anybody else.”
Baldwin has so much love for his local players that he described them as “not import-reliant. They are such talented, stand-alone players that they can play without imports.”
Those Filipinos players gave Gilas a second place finish in the Jones Cup on Sunday, holding the fort for the grieving Blatche and doing Baldwin and the country proud.
There were lessons learned in that tournament, and the last two weeks of preparations will be very critical as Gilas shoots for the lone Olympic berth in the Fiba Asia scheduled to start Sept. 23 in Changsha, China.
“You want me to give you percentages again,” Baldwin replied with a smile when asked to rate how good his team is at the moment. “I don’t know. We’re better, but we’re not good enough.
“Are we close? No not really.”