Building right culture a key goal for national squad
The immediate goal for Gilas Pilipinas is to assemble a capable squad to compete against two top Southeast Asian countries for the first window of the Fiba Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
But in doing so, the program’s bigwigs want is to accomplish something on the side, a bigger goal that will lay the foundation for the country’s bid in the next Fiba World Cup, which the country hosts in 2023.
“[What] we want to develop is a culture,” program director Tab Baldwin said as the Nationals, led by interim coach Mark Dickel, began its preparations on Thursday.
“It needs to be a culture of belief, dedication and commitment,” he said.
Baldwin said that such a thrust was borne out of the hope that making the second round of the “World Championships is no longer a dream but a realistic expectation”
“We are trying to build a base now, which will serve us in 2023 so we could go on forward and legitimately,” said Baldwin, who also previously served as Gilas coach.
That best explains why the young pool is still reinforced with pros and international veterans.
“We are running a parallel line with the development of younger players for the future. [And we will] still depend on the PBA, the relationships with players who have played in Gilas that we believe will continue to serve us well in the future,” Baldwin noted.
That’s what makes Pingris an integral part of the pool.
“We wanted to get the right kind of leader—somebody that could inspire and inform how important it is to play for your country, how seriously you have to take that, how professional you have to behave,” he added.
“I absolutely know we cannot be successful no matter how much talent we roll out on this court in four years time if we have don’t have a culture that embodies the people of the country. Who better than Ping?,” Baldwin said of the 2014 World Cup veteran.
And while Dickel believes this current crop of raw talent is more than capable of getting the job done for this window’s pair of games, Baldwin knows that the journey won’t be one without hiccups, hence getting things right this early.
“We’re trying to develop a professional national team. But it will take time. It will take years. It’s not something we can do overnight,” he said.
“We know that every single Filipino wants to win every single game, and we do, too. And we’ll plan for that, we’ll prepare for that, we’ll compete for that,” Baldwin said. “Where we go from here will be determined by the quality of team that we can develop between now and then.”
The preparations began on a less-than-ideal start for the Nationals, who were hit with injuries and withdrawals for the first window. Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar have been ruled out for the first window, where the country plays Thailand and Indonesia.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has also yet to name a long-term coach and plans to do so before the second window on November.