The COVID-19 pandemic is making it difficult for Gilas Pilipinas to map out concrete plans for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers and the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
“This word ‘plans’ is like a dream. We should be saying ‘What are your fantasies?’” Baldwin said when he guested the Power and Play program of former PBA commissioner Noli Eala.
Baldwin bared that there were plans following the ongoing training bubble in Calamba, Laguna to have Gilas fly to Australia or even New Zealand for possible tune-up games against pro teams.
Gilas was also invited to play as a guest team in the PBA’s 46th season but the planned start of the pro league’s campaign will likely be delayed as COVID-19 cases increased to almost 10,000 per day, resulting in the return of ECQ regulations in Metro Manila and provinces part of the so-called “NCR bubble.”
“We can’t seem to bring our plans to fruition,” said Baldwin. “We had plans initially after the bubble to go down to Australia and possibly New Zealand and get games against pro teams down there as preparation for the June calendar.
“And that was after the PBA had made a kind offer for us to be able to participate as a guest team. And then Australia closed its borders so we went back to the PBA, sort of gap in hand begging ‘Can we get back in?’ and they were willing to help us again. And then the PBA gets delayed.
“The difficulty is we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the connections to organize games, we just can’t get anywhere. Europe is closed, Australia is closed,” he added.
Baldwin ruled out the option of going to the United States for tune-up games as he believed that it could serve as counter-productive for Gilas.
“You can get into the States, but who are you gonna play in the States?” he said. “One of my conditions is that we need to play real teams. We don’t need to play composite teams or All-Star teams that are put together at the last minute, because that’s not gonna prepare us to go up against a Korean team that is well-trained, a Dominican Republic team that is well-trained, a Serbian team that is very well-trained and plays like a team.
“If you go out and play these All-Star, composite teams which is all that is available in the US, I think it’s actually going to be detrimental to our development,” added Baldwin.
For now, the only likelihood, Baldwin said, is for Gilas to be able to play some games against PBA teams and hope that the situation can improve in the weeks leading up to the two competitions for the team to have better options.
“So we just have to bite the bullet and keep hoping and waiting for windows to open,” said Baldwin. “I guess the big one right now is just we’re praying along with the PBA that we can find a calendar for the PBA and hopefully we can use games against PBA teams for us to develop.”