Where Baldwin is wrong: Gilas needs the PBA (and PBA needs Gilas, too)

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Among the things Tab Baldwin, current Gilas Youth National Program head and former assistant coach and consultant of Talk ‘N Text, that put him in hot water is the ultimate goal of the Gilas program is to eventually lessen dependence on PBA.

Here’s where I think Baldwin is really, really off the mark.

Listen to Baldwin as quoted by Spin.ph: “What we have to do is continue to look at how our talent, those who we have, presents itself to us, and what that combination of players looks like. And then look at what style of basketball, we think, will be the biggest problem for the elite teams in the world to confront. And then, we work to develop that with coaching resources and the playing resources that we can bring together.”

He may not realize it but that’s rather non-sense and downright selfish to the Filipino fans.

The PBA has a compilation of the best basketball talents in the Philippines and to distance Gilas from them would deprive the country of the best representation in international tournaments.

To no surprise, Baldwin acknowledged this and the consequence that Gilas will not have a massive pool of players to select from.

That makes me unsure why he wants to limit his options. That’s what lessening dependence on the PBA does, it takes away good options.

It may work in the lower level tournaments like the early part of the World Cup Qualifiers. However, when final rounds come, Gilas would surely want June Mar Fajardo and company on their lineup. Shouldn’t they?

More on Tab Baldwin:
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Baldwin had first-hand experience of this during the 2018 Jones Cup. I’m sure he knows this tournament is unlike the UAAP.

If his main goal is to win the tournament, which should be the case, hadn’t he wished he had the entire UAAP and NCAA roster available for him to fill at least his bench?

Baldwin has not been in the country long enough to know how Filipinos felt from not being able to field players like Atoy Co, Philip Cezar, Abet Guidaben, Ramon Fernandez, Robert Jaworski, and Francis Arnaiz from the Crispa-Toyota powerhouses and a prime Ricardo Brown, William Pearson and Manny Victorino from Great Taste in international competitions because they were pros.

I’m sure the country could have been in better positions to get medals had these players been available for international meets at that time.

To exclude the PBA by saying they will just complement the young core is like bringing back those times and is reverse thinking.

I have the perfect analogy: the Marvel character “Incredible Hulk”.

The SBP alone is like Dr. Bruce Banner, a scientist who owns 7 doctorate degrees as the movie says. It can make great plans to stop an enemy but lacks the muscle to execute them. The PBA alone is like the Hulk, as mindless fighting machine but lacks the strategy to take out an equally formidable opponent.

If the SBP, Gilas program keeps on treating the PBA like a disease, it will surely not find a cure. They have to co-exist if the Philippine team is to be afforded a full potential.

Come to think of it, the money to be earned by a Gilas starter caliber player in the PBA is way, way more than the allowance given by the government to national athletes. It is unfair for the government, SBP to deprive a player of such opportunity given that this is only afforded to a few by forcing him to serve the country as national athlete.

Why not let the government pay for this astronomical allowance? It would be unfair to let the taxpayers bear this burden when PBA teams are right there to take care of it.

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The best combination here is having the PBA and the SBP on the same page. They have been lately.

The PBA seemed to realize it will be in a losing position if it didn’t have major representation in the final lineup as  evidenced by eventually allowing Guiao and Cone to select any player from any team for their respective rosters for international competitions.

This scenario seldom happened before. I have to go back to the 1990 Asian Games when Jaworski was allowed to pick any player from any team for the roster.

On the other hand, the basketball governing body did not show too many passive reactions, like it did in the past, whenever players did not show up for practices because they were doing their obligations to their respective mother ball clubs.

The national sports association for basketball had, in previous instances, openly lamented the supposed lack of “commitment” from the league and players regarding participation in international tournaments.

The latest undertakings during the World Cup and the SEA Games were good work in progress. Sure, the outcome wasn’t perfect during the latest World Cup but the smoothness of the union was first of a kind, ever since professional players became legible.

It was unfortunate that Baldwin was insinuating of breaking this partnership at a point it has just begun flourishing.

Separating the PBA and Gilas is actually insane, to borrow Baldwin’s words. It is kinda repeating mistakes because that move was tested multiple times before in the Philippine conditions. It didn’t work each time.

Heck, it didn’t even work at times in the US where there are, obviously, larger pools of talents to choose from. Remember how they lost some international competitions because the best NBA players weren’t on their national team?

By: Armando M. Bolislis

photo from fiba.basketball

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