Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin was startled by FIBA’s decision to push through with the next set of qualifying games in mini-bubble as the team struggles to complete its final roster.

/ 14 October 2020

“The fact that FIBA wants to do it this November is a bit of a surprise. Let’s view it as a pleasant surprise that we’re going to be back to playing basketball and hopefully we can be part of the landscape to returning the world to some set of normalcy, giving fans the opportunity to get back to cheering for the national team. Get back to cheering for the sport,” Baldwin said.

As the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers (ACQ) resume next month, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) struggles to have a concrete game plan due to a lack of details from FIBA regarding the said bubble tourney and the limitations set by the Philippine government. 

On a positive note, special assistant to the SBP President Ryan Gregorio laid out the three-step formula they created to address the problem at hand. 

First, Tab Baldwin will carry on his duty as the national team’s program director until the World Cup in 2023, which the country will co-host with Indonesia and Japan.

Also, Gregorio emphasized completing a good coaching staff is needed.

“For as long as Coach Tab knows exactly his direction, we will follow his lead,” Gregorio said. 

Second, with the concurrence of the ACQ and the PBA bubble, Baldwin confirmed that it will rule out PBA players.

“At this point, we certainly are ruling out the inclusion of PBA players and coaches,” said the Gilas program director.

“That means we have to either look at players overseas, which again are gonna be difficult because they have schedules going on right now, or look to our college ranks which is probably the most likely,” Baldwin added.

Luckily, the roster had already six players in their starting lineup namely, Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Allyn Bulanadi, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt, alongside Jaydee Tungcab.

Thirdy Ravena, which is Japan-bound to join San-en NeoPhoenix in the B.League, is also in consideration. 

Lastly, the third step in the formula would be when the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) gives a go-signal for Gilas to resume training. 

“Are we allowed to practice again by the IATF? I think that’s the biggest issue that we’re facing right now,” said Gregorio. 

“Players are ready to play but are we allowed to practice as a team. That is the question that we are waiting for an answer up to this point,” the special assistant added. 

Yet, Baldwin is grateful that players have kept their bodies in tip-top shape through the quarantine period. 

Ultimately, the government has the final decision on the proceedings of our national team, until then, the team will have to wait.