Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said that the presence of Philippine Basketball Association’s Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference Calvin Abueva enlivened the slim, 11-player fourth day of training of the national basketball team at the Meralco gym in Ortigas on Thursday.
“Good as he was just like the first day [Wednesday],” Baldwin told The Manila Times in an interview after the team’s morning practice. “Calvin is good, highly intense. He brings the same things. He brings energy, he brings intensity, and he brings enjoyment to the game.”
Abueva, Alaska’s forward posted an average of 17.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game during the recent PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“Any team that experiences that enjoys that. They revel in that and he didn’t disappoint us,” added Baldwin.
Baldwin conducted the team’s morning practice without injured players June Mar Fajardo Marcio Lassiter and Jeff Chan. Amateur player Kiefer Ravena skipped the practice for a personal trip to London.
Paul Lee, Greg Slaughter and Matt Rosser-Ganuelas are all already out of the national pool for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament set on July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena because of injuries.
“Day by day, the practice turns good. We can’t go slowly in practice because we need to fix the area that we needed to fix. We are confident that we can build the strongest team before the qualifiers and we’re not building individual players here,” added Baldwin.
Baldwin also said that he believes the present team is more versatile compared to the previous national team. “More versatility and more scorers at this point and we want to be perfect but defensively we have to be also good,” he said.
Bobby Ray Parks Jr., who experienced playing in the National Basketball Association Developmental League, according to Baldwin, will enhance Gilas Pilipinas’ firepower if ever he made it to the final roster.
Baldwin also thanked Rain or Shine for its offer to allow the 6’7 Raymond Almazan to join the pool.
“No opportunity for Raymond [Almazan] to join Gilas because we already submitted our 24-man line-up to FIBA. I’ve already talked with Rain or Shine management about it and I’m thankful.”
“But in case, we need more bodies in practice, we’ll consider that. No time to take advantage about that offer for the meantime,” he added. “The national cadet team is also coming home and they will join the practice on Monday.”
Jean Marc Pingris, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel De Ocampo, Mo Tautuaa and Jayson Castro, among others, were also present during the practice on Thursday.
The pool will also be practicing on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. They will take a break on Friday. The 6’11 Andray Blatche is expected to join the practice on Sunday.