MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine basketball legend Allan Caidic is in full support of the current Gilas Pilipinas program, comparing it to the Northern Cement squad of which he was a part of in the 1980s.
Caidic discussed the ongoing national team program during an online basketball seminar recently, where he noted that the Gilas Pilipinas squad was being formed with an eye towards the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
"Tama 'yun, i-form mo na 'yung team. Kasi 'pag 'yung anu-ano lang tayo, kuha ng ganito sa PBA, kuha ng ganito, ano eh, hindi siya talagang complete na (mabubuo), tapos we expect a better result. Mahirap maging consistent sa ganoong sistema," said Caidic.
"So talagang dapat, umpisahan mo sa kung ang pattern nila is
'yung NCC dati na programa, it's almost the same naman," he added. "Kuha sila ngayon ng foreign coach tapos meron na silang prospect na mga naturalized players, and then itong mga batang ito."
The Gilas Pilipinas program, of which Tab Baldwin is the director, is trying to strike a balance between winning games in competitions while at the same time developing the players who may be part of the national team squad for 2023.
They formed a pool of players for the squad from the 2019 PBA Rookie Draft, composed of Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Matt and Mike Nieto, and Allyn Bulanadi -- all of whom were standouts in last year's collegiate tournaments. They were later joined by Thirdy Ravena and Jaydee Tungcab, as well as Kobe Paras, Dave Ildefonso, and Dwight Ramos.
Some PBA veterans -- including TNT's Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy -- were also called up to the squad that competed in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
Caidic had no issues with the young players who were called up to the team, as he noted that their NCC squad also had collegiate players. Aside from the "Triggerman," the NCC team also featured Pido Jarencio and Jerry Codinera. They would be part of the team that represented the country in the 1985 Southeast Asian Games and the FIBA Asia Championship, then known as the Asian Basketball Confederation Championship.
"Saan ba kami nag-umpisa?" said Caidic. "College players din kami noong kunin kami ng NCC to represent the Philippines eh."
"And then through practice, through teamwork, kumpyansa, 'yung experience abroad at saka dito sa laro sa PBA, na-gain namin 'yun eh, unti-unti, with that core," he added.
"Kung ngayon pa lang, meron pa tayong three years, at 'yung 2021 naman na FIBA Asia is kahit matalo tayo doon, qualified tayo sa 2023. So 'yun na 'yung paghandaan natin."
What makes Caidic all the more optimistic for the program is that he can see the young players growing and developing together.
"Maganda kasi diyan, sabay-sabay sila eh. Siyempre, iga-guide ng ibang beterano from the PBA, sa umpisa, pero sila rin 'yan eventually sa 2023," he said.
"Kaya ngayon pa lang talaga, dapat (magawa) na 'yun. Hoping na maging maganda talaga ang program ng Gilas na 'to hanggang sa 2023."
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