While the composition of Gilas Pilipinas is made up of amateur players for the restart of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, the national team coaching staff is an experienced group with a winning pedigree in international and local tournaments.
Tab Baldwin is at the forefront as Gilas project director, while with him are former PBA coaches Jong Uichico and Boyet Fernandez, the latest addition to the group.
“It is an experienced coaching staff,” said Ryan Gregorio, himself a multi-titled mentor in the pro league during his appearance on The Chasedown last Saturday on Cignal TV’s One PH channel.
Baldwin called the shots for New Zealand that finished fourth overall in the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis, USA. He also called the shots for Lebanon and Jordan between 2010 and 2012.
He joined the Philippine Team initially as consultant during the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship here, before he took over in 2014 as head coach. The following year, he steered the national team to a silver medal finish in the FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China.
Uichico, on the other hand, owns nine PBA titles, five with San Miguel Beer and four with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. He coached the Philippine Team to fourth-place finish during the 2002 Busan Asian Games in Korea.
As for Fernandez, the latest to join the coaching staff, he adds experience handling amateur players since he won a title in coaching at the collegiate level as champion mentor of San Beda.
While it is Baldwin who is project director, Gregorio said the coaching staff works under the “coaching by committee” structure as the coaches try to establish the Gilas system for the 16 players.
As for who would call the shots, Gregorio, now Special Assistant to the President of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chief Al Panlilio, said the association would make an announcement in the coming days.
“Our feeling at this point is to focus on the players first. Then we’ll tell everyone (who’s the coach),” said Gregorio.
Last week, the SBP named 16 players to the pool for the qualifiers set Nov. 26 to 30 in Manama, Bahrain.
Five players selected in the PBA Rookie Draft late last year lead the 16-man pool preparing for the event, including Allyn Bulanadi, Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, and Rey Suerte.
Joining them are collegiate stalwarts Kobe Paras, Calvin Oftana, Justin Baltazar, Kenmark Carino, Dave Ildefonso, Will Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Dwight Ramos, Gomez de Liano brothers Juan and Javi, and naturalization prospect Angelo Kouame – a member of Ateneo basketball squad – from Ivory Coast.
Gilas, which also has Alton Lister, Sandro Soriano and Andrei Tolentino on the coaching staff, has started training under a bubble arrangement at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.