With the Olympic Qualifier just around the corner, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin hopes the protagonists of this year’s Commissioner’s Cup Finals can bring a more positive and competitive atmosphere in the training session when they return on Tuesday.
Fresh from their triumphant mid-season tourney conquest in the PBA, Rain or Shine vital cogs Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee, and Jeff Chan are expected to plunge back into a more intensive training with the national team alongside Alaska’s do-it-all forward Calvin Abueva.
“I’m expecting them to inject something positive on what we’re doing and become strong when they come in,” said Baldwin after their Sunday morning training session.
Baldwin also expects Finals MVP Lee, Norwood, Chan, and Abueva will still be in their tip-top shape after they were all given a well-deserved 5-day rest coming off a grueling titular showdown that was decided on Wednesday, the same day the Gilas resumed their practice this month.
Now that the players’ focus shifts to the bigger task of chasing the Olympic dream for Philippine basketball, Baldwin believes the returning players will have their eyes lit to crack the Final 12 –especially Abueva, who faltered anew in helping the Aces break their bridesmaid finishes.
“I think when guys come out of that environment, it’s always the next challenge,” he said. “Even more so than these guys, they’ll be more anxious to get in.”
“Calvin will be obviously more motivated because that’s what happen when you lose a championship, you can’t usually wait to get back in the court,” shared Baldwin. “The guys that won will be in great mood, there will be a lot of talking going on among players, it will be more enjoyable to have them here.”
Marcio Lassiter, who is not yet reporting in the Gilas practice since the resumption, is also expected to join on Tuesday while Andray Blatche, who is reportedly fitter than he was in the FIBA Asia Men’s Champion, is set to arrive in Manila on May 27. – By Jason Mercene
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