Baldwin praises Almazan: He belongs with Gilas (May 30, 2016)
Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

Raymond Almazan getting some pointers from Tab Baldwin. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin sure knows what he’s getting when he floated the name of Raymond Almazan as a possible member of the pool.

And with the national team in need of warm bodies, the one-time NCAA MVP out of Letran did not disappoint.

“What can I say? I mean anybody that watched that practice would think that he’s been with us every single practice,” Baldwin said after wrapping up Sunday’s training session, the first with Almazan as a practice player.

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Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Jordan Clarkson won’t be wearing the Philippines colors anytime soon but Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin is just glad to see the enthusiasm the Los Angeles Laker has towards the national team.

“Whenever Jordan shows up, it helps our morale because we know his passion is, his desire to play for the Philippines. It makes us feel good and he’s happy doing it,” Baldwin said.

Clarkson attended the national team’s jersey unveiling on Saturday and took part in the squad’s closed-door practices soon after.

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Caidic: Gilas may upset OQT foes (May 30, 2016)
Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

Ranidel de Ocampo and the rest of Gilas Pilipinas in practice. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

ALLAN Caidic, one of the best offensive players the Philippines has produced internationally, believes that the key for Gilas Pilipinas in the coming Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) is for the Filipinos to continue “to just enjoy the game.”

Caidic, who was a part of the first three all-pro teams that played in the Asian Games, sees Gilas as capable of posting upsets if it plays with the nothing-to-lose mentality like it did in the World Cup in Spain in 2014.

“No one expected us to contend in Spain. No one expected our games to be close there,” Caidic told the Inquirer over the phone yesterday. “And you know why? Because everyone in the team knew that we had nothing to lose, and that worked to our advantage.

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Ray Parks. FIBA file photo

The introduction of Ray Parks to the Philippine national men’s basketball pool has been a boost to the training session, especially as it comes on the heels of the crucial loss of point guard Paul Lee, who withdrew from the squad due to a nagging knee injury.

Gabe Norwood, the longest-tenured Philippine team member, believes Lee’s exit will be difficult to make up for.

“It’s big, not just for Ray, but for all the guys. You’re in a situation where you need to work a little bit harder and pick up that slack. There’s not a lot of Paul Lees in this country. He’s one of a kind. We could add on a little piece to that puzzle and hopefully help each other out,” Norwood told InterAksyon.com in an exclusive interview.

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Blatche upbeat on PH 5 chances (May 30, 2016)
Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

Andray Blatche. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

ANDRAY Blatche doesn’t want to dwell on the past anymore.

“I’m not here to talk about last year. I’m here to talk about this year and what’s our focus on moving forward, what we need to do to win,” Blatche told reporters after practice with Gilas Pilipinas Sunday.

“This year, we’re facing teams which are better than the ones in Fiba-Asia,” the 6-foot-11 former Brooklyn Net in the NBA went on, referring to the teams he will try to lead the Filipinos in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament starting July 5 at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

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La Salle's Ayo grateful to coach against Baldwin (May 30, 2016)
Camille B. Naredo [ Source: ABS CBN News ]

 Aldin Ayo and the La Salle Green Archers. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – De La Salle University head coach Aldin Ayo considered it an honor and a learning experience to have coached against Tab Baldwin in the 2016 FilOil Flying V Preseason Tournament.

Ayo steered the Green Archers to an impressive 98-66 victory over Baldwin's Ateneo Blue Eagles in the preseason tilt, with the Katipunan-based dribblers looking flustered by the full court press that Ayo had installed in La Salle.

With Ateneo committing 34 turnovers and La Salle dominating the offensive glass, the Green Archers cruised to victory to remain unbeaten at 5-0

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Baldwin: Blatche ‘in good shape’ (May 30, 2016)
Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

Naturalized center Andray Blatche practiced with Gilas Pilipinas for the first time since arriving in Manila on Friday. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Andray Blatche on Sunday hit the court with Gilas Pilipinas for the first time this year and national team head coach Tab Baldwin couldn’t be any happier with what he saw.

“He’s good,” said Baldwin of the naturalized center, who arrived in Manila on Friday. “It’s a different Andray than last year.”

And it seems like the Syracuse, New York native didn’t miss a beat, getting himself back in the groove with his old teammates.

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 La Salle's Jason Perkins. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

Perkins explained that he was fulfilling a promise to his mother, saying: "Before I came to Manila, I promised my mom that I would graduate and I want to make her happy."

It was also his way of showing his loyalty to La Salle, who he said has been "very loyal to me" throughout his collegiate career.

"In my rookie year, we won a championship," Perkins said. "I want to end on another championship."

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Blatche puts past behind, focused on leading Gilas in qualifiers (May 30, 2016)
Randolph B. Leongson [ Source: Inquirer ]

Andray Blatche. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Past is past, and this time, Andray Blatche’s focus is solely on helping Gilas Pilipinas nab the lone ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics at stake in the Fiba Olympic qualifying tournament in July.

“I’m not here to talk about last year. I’m here to talk about this year and what’s our focus on moving forward, what we need to do to win,” Blatche said on Sunday after participating in his first practice with Gilas Pilipinas this year.

Blatche arrived in Manila on Friday and the Syracuse, New York native is happy to be back on the court with some of his old teammates.

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Letran’s Rey Nambatac (6) dribbles against two San Beda defenders. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

It’s the rivalry that has practically defined the NCAA and on Sunday, San Beda took revenge on its nemesis Letran with an impressive 84-70 victory in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Tournament.

It was the two teams’ first meeting since the Knights took the NCAA title from the Red Lions, but for Rey Nambatac it’s just like any other game.

Nambatac said the preseason is just part of the Knights’ preparation for the NCAA, and their loss to San Beda is nothing but a variable in their championship equation.

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