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Baldwin: No last-minute inclusions in Philippines five

Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Forming the strongest team possible, and building the chemistry, through time, will give Gilas Pilipinas its best shot against powerhouse teams like France in the Olympic Qualifier Tournament in July.

Head coach Tab Baldwin said he wants to assemble the team anchored on players who will be there 24/7.

And while there’s a chance for Los Angeles Lakers star Jordan Clarkson to suit up for the Philippines, Baldwin is not pinning all his hopes on the inclusion of the talented Fil-Am.

“Jordan has already made a statement that he wants to play for Gilas. But he has paper work issues with FIBA. If that works out then he’ll be part,” said Baldwin.

“If he’s available he’ll be with Gilas. If he’s not available then we’ll move on without him,” he added.

The Philippines plays France and New Zealand in Group B, and hope to beat them just to advance to the next round against perhaps Canada and Turkey. Senegal is the third team in Group A.

By the time the OQTs are held, the NBA season is over, and Baldwin expects the teams to be manned with NBA players, like Tony Parker and Boris Diaw of the Spurs for France.

Canada is also expected to field NBA players.

“All these players will be available to play for their respective countries,” said Baldwin.

And Gilas Pilipinas is hoping for just one active NBA player in its roster. The head coach said he can’t be losing sleep on whether Clarkson is in or out.

“As a coach I believe in preparation,” said Baldwin a couple of days ago, adding that he doesn’t believe in players coming in at the last minute trying to save the entire situation. 

“We want them here not on the last minute – even if we’re talking about Jordan,” he said.

“You can come up with the best team but if you’re not prepared it won’t do anything. We need to rebuild our chemistry. That’s the task we have. And it takes time,” Baldwin said.

Aside from Manila, OQTs will also be staged in Italy and Serbia, and only the three winners will board the last bus to the Rio Olympics in August.

There’s still enough time, according to Baldwin, who hasn’t even established a definite date when to start training for the tournament.

“We’re not under time pressure,” he said.

ACIRC BALDWIN CANADA AND TURKEY FRANCE AND NEW ZEALAND GILAS PILIPINAS GROUP A GROUP B ITALY AND SERBIA JORDAN CLARKSON LOS ANGELES LAKERS OLYMPIC QUALIFIER TOURNAMENT
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