Young Gilas looking for much-needed chemistry
It’s no secret that Gilas Pilipinas won’t come in fully armed for the November window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain.
“The team is young and inexperienced. That’s why we’re trying to keep things as simple as possible, things that the players can comprehend,’’ Gilas Pilipinas coach Jong Uichico said during Thursday’s virtual press conference organized by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
The team will look every inch a collegiate squad, with its core composed of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) draftees who have not played a single professional outing yet: Allyn Bulanadi, Rey Suerte, Isaac Go and twins Matt and Mike Nieto. Also tapped for the squad are Kobe Paras, Juan Gomez de Liaño and NCAA most valuable player Calvin Oftana of San Beda. They will be joined by Justine Baltazar, University of the Philippines’ Javi Gomez de Liaño, Ateneo’s Will Navarro, Dave Ildefonso and Dwight Ramos, San Beda’s Kenmark Carino and Jaydee Tungcab.
With the pros struck out of the roster because of the PBA bubble and the current pool members not having played as a team yet, Gilas Pilipinas will cram to get into fighting form for the Nov. 26 to 30 qualifiers.
Even Gilas Pilipinas project director Tab Baldwin is tempering expectations.
“We don’t think they are battle ready. We worry about what we can’t do given the time frames and given the fact that these players come in personally underprepared no matter how much they did try over eight months,’’ the concurrent Ateneo head coach said.
“They are willing learners and hard workers, so that’s something positive that we can look forward to. We hope we can get that chemistry as soon as possible,’’ Uichico said.
The final 12 who will suit up for the squad will be known before the team leaves for Bahrain on Sunday.
“We’re trying to build chemistry as a team. We have to adjust and learn how our opponents compete,’’ Matt Nieto said. “We just have to follow the system of our coaches and good decisions inside the court will follow.’’
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.