Baldwin names Gilas ‘Fighting 12’ Sunday
GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin will name his “Fighting 12” on Sunday, just nine days before the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament gets off the ground at Mall of Asia Arena.
Baldwin will make the final two cuts on the 14-man pool he took to Europe for a back-breaking camp and a series of exhibition games. The same two players will be named reserves for the July 5 to 10 event.
The Philippines needs to win the Manila OQT to make it to the main draw of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
The Gilas crew flew from Turkey to Italy yesterday and will participate in a pocket tournament in Bologna, clashing with Olympic qualifier China, the Andrew Wiggins-less Canada five and the Italians.
The Filipinos will come into that tournament still licking the wounds of a lopsided loss to Turkey in an exhibition game two nights ago in Istanbul.
Turkey belongs to the other group in the Manila OQT together along with Canada and Senegal, and could be a Final Four foe for the Philippines next month.
At least one win
The Filipinos will be playing the Tony Parker-spiked France on July 5 and New Zealand the next day, with the Philippines needing at least one win to advance to the Final Four.
Tournament format calls for the top teams from each group to clash with the No. 2 squads, with the winners advancing to the title game for the lone Olympic berth at stake.
Aside from naturalized center Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Jason Castro, Marc Pingris, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar and Ranidel de Ocampo seem to have locks on the Final 12 spots.
Jeff Chan remains as Baldwin’s most lethal outside gun, with the inability of Marcio Lassiter to join the pool because of a groin injury.
Terrence Romeo, a revelation for Baldwin in the Jones Cup and Fiba Asia Championship last year, Troy Rosario, Ryan Reyes and LA Tenorio are the other members of the team.
Gilas flies back home on June 28 and will play Turkey in another exhibition match on July 1, with Baldwin to present his final lineup in that game.
TV5, basketball godfather Manny V. Pangilinan’s network, will telecast Baldwin’s announcement on Sunday.