'Time commitment' requirement differs for every player, says Baldwin

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2021 02:18 PM

'Time commitment' requirement differs for every player, says Baldwin 1
Matthew Wright and Dalph Panopio. FIBA.basketball

MANILA, Philippines -- Gilas Pilipinas program director Tab Baldwin has made it clear that the door remains open for PBA players to join the national team as long as they make the "time commitment," which he acknowledges differs from player to player.

No PBA players were included in the Gilas Pilipinas pool that competed in the recent FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Nonetheless, the youthful Gilas team was impressive: they swept the Asia Cup qualifiers, and gave Serbia and the Dominican Republic a scare in the OQT.

Baldwin has repeatedly stressed that professional players -- and these include hoopers like Thirdy Ravena, who now plays in Japan's B.League -- are welcome to suit up for Gilas as long as they can commit the time needed to prepare with them.

"If those players can make the necessary time commitment into our program, and that means a significant number of practices to integrate themselves into our playing system and our chemistry, then our arms are wide open for that," Baldwin said recently.

However, in a discussion with former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala on "Power and Play" last Saturday, Baldwin explained that there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much time a player must spend with the Gilas team.

"It sounds like I'm almost gonna contradict myself. But I'll tell you why, the amount of time is indeterminate," said Baldwin.

The coach explained that a player like Ravena, who played for him for four seasons in the Ateneo de Manila University, already knows their system quite well.

Even PBA players like Roger Pogoy or CJ Perez are very familiar with what they do as well, as they were part of the initial pool of players that trained with the team last January.

"They know much of the system. They know the defensive principles," said Baldwin.

"Thirdy or Roger Pogoy or CJ Perez might be able to come in in a week and consume everything," he added.

But it will be different for players who have yet to spend time with them, Baldwin said. 

"If we're talking about somebody like Matthew Wright, who I love, and he would love to be in the program, from the discussions we've had, he needs to be in longer," he pointed out.

"And it's nothing personal against Matthew. It doesn't have anything to do with where he comes from. If we're talking about Dalph Panopio, same thing. They're gonna need to spend more time there, because they have more to learn," he added.

The 21-year-old Panopio, who was raised in Italy, has represented the Philippines in youth-level tournaments but has yet to receive a call-up to the senior team.

"I can tell you that it isn't a week or ten days. I can tell you it's a lot longer than that," said Baldwin. "But again, it comes down to the individual. Maybe not, maybe they just don't learn quickly, either."

"So, it's impossible to answer that question. The safe answer is a long time. That's the safe answer. And what does a long time means? A month. That's what a long time means."

Baldwin assured that once a player "absorbs" the system that they run, they will remain in consideration for the national team pool even if they have to miss a training camp to play in overseas leagues.

"You hear all these stories about guys going to Japan and playing overseas. Once they've been a part of what we do, if they're only released on a FIBA clause for say, a week or ten days before the actual competition, we can absorb them back in that time," he said.

"But if they've never been part of the program, and they're trying to come in on that frame, we're just not gonna allow that," he said. "It's not practical."

"It will be a case of diminishing returns. Their talent will be diminished by the fact that they don't just have enough time to integrate that into the system. Those are the facts."

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