Gilas better now, but hurting guards worry Baldwin
FOR the first time since Gilas Pilipinas went full throttle in training for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, scheduled to blast off in less than five weeks, coach Tab Baldwin expressed satisfaction at how practice progressed.
“I do think we took a step forward today and I can’t say that I’ve always felt that right,” Baldwin told reporters. “But today I definitely did.”
And for the first time since getting this intrepid bunch together, Baldwin sounded an alarm: The clock is ticking fast and he needs everyone to come in healthy, particularly Jeff Chan and Marcio Lassiter, the team’s outside guns.
“I am (worried), with our two guards having physical problems right now,” he said. “None of them is so serious that we don’t think they won’t be there in the end. But it’s again, integration, chemistry, getting enough practice time to be comfortable and fluid with what we are doing.”
Chan turned in his second full day of practice but still has issues with a groin injury he sustained in the last PBA title series for Rain or Shine.
Lassiter, meanwhile, is battling bronchitis and has been out for six days.
“I don’t know if we can get him back before we leave for Greece,” Baldwin said of Lassiter. “Our hope right now is (for Lassiter to be healthy enough) to at least get on the plane and hopefully have him for a day or two before that. But he’s not well.”
The team—which already lost Paul Lee, Greg Slaughter and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser to injuries—flies out on June 10 for a nine-day camp in Greece.
Baldwin also continues to rave about the enthusiasm being shown by naturalized center Andray Blatche, whose energy, he said, has been infectious.
“Dray came in with a lot of intensity and we sort of followed him a bit,” he said. “He lifted the level of intensity and energy in practice and I think the other players have to step up and do that as well.”
Gilas will be clashing with France and its San Antonio Spurs superstar Tony Parker on July 5 before taking on New Zealand the next day, needing at least one victory to advance to the crossover Final Four to have a shot at an Olympic berth.
The Fiba will be holding three qualifiers simultaneously in different countries, staking a berth to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games for the winners.
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