With some of the PBA players in the Gilas pool unable to join the action of their Mondays-only practice regularly, head coach Tab Baldwin was happy to see younger players stepping up –and even executing well at some point over their professional counterparts.
It was sort of a reunion for former Sinag squad members and collegiate stars Troy Rosario, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Mac Belo and new addition Russell Escoto when they went up against the Gilas mainstays on their 4th training session.
“It was interesting because the white team tonight was the SEA games team and it’s good to see them out there and they were executing well better than the blue team (all-pro team) so it was all hats off to them,” said Baldwin, who stirred the Sinag team to a gold medal finish in 2015 SEA Games.
As former FEU standout Escoto joined the fray of younger players in Gilas practice, Baldwin had the luxury of teaming up his former Sinag team to challenge the all-professional team led by LA Tenorio, Calvin Abueva, Gabe Norwood, Ranidel de Ocampo and Mo Tautuaa, in the scrimmage part of the session.
“They help us out,” explained Baldwin. “We don’t have an ulterior motive down the track to turn around and shoo all the PBA players away and say ‘hey here’s our team’, there’s nothing like that.”
The development of amateur players joining the training pool has been observed as evidence on Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ (SBP) plan to revive the Gilas cadet program for future FIBA-sanctioned events.
“They are working for their future and we’re supporting them and they are supporting us. That’s fantastic that it can be that way,” Baldwin added.
After enjoying an almost-perfect healthy players last week, Baldwin had no choice but to field the younger players in scrimmage this time as June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, and Paul Lee all in civilian clothes due to various injuries.
“We’re gonna live with that, it’s the middle of the PBA season, guys are gonna come up banged up a little times,” shared Baldwin, who has been strict in players’ attendance since day 1.
Despite the irregular attendance, Baldwin is hopeful that they can establish their chemistry early with the help of the younger players, as he see it as the biggest advantage of Gilas over other OQT teams.
“I think our strength should be that we can be more cohesive than other countries because we got a little bit more of preparation time, we have to used that,” he closed. – By Jason Mercene
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