#FIBAOQT: No use fretting about injuries ahead of OQT for Gilas boss Baldwin

Terrence Romeo puts the move on Iran's Sajjad Mashayekhi.
(image from FIBA.)
*This is a repost of an article from FIBA.com.

With games coming up against France and New Zealand, and potential clashes with Turkey, Canada and Senegal, it's easy to see how Philippines coach Tab Baldwin might be a little anxious before the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila.

Imagine the size of the task for the Filipinos, who need to win the OQT to clinch a spot in the Rio de Janeiro Games. How will Gilas combat the athleticism, size and experience of great players like French trio Rudy Gobert, Nicolas Batum and Tony Parker in their Group B opener?

What the veteran coach, who steered the Philippines to a runners-up finish at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in China, will not be doing is losing sleep over the possibility that injuries may rob him of certain players for the OQT.

His top guard, Jayson Castro, is currently out of action with a nagging Achilles problem while another up-and-coming playmaker, Terrence Romeo, has a calf injury that he picked up on Sunday that has forced him to the sidelines.
If you said to me today, 'Will you have your top 12 come game time against France?', I'd say, 'No, we'd probably have one or two that are out with injuries that we can't get our hands on.' That's just the nature of it and we live with that. - Baldwin

The reality is that every team deals with injuries. It's part of the game. It's part of sports. It's why squad depth is so important.

It's why coaches and teams adhere to the 'next man up' approach. Players need to be ready to fill in when their teammates are hurt. Injuries kept Castro and Romeo out of Monday's national team practice. June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, and Japeth Aguilar were also rested because of knocks.

"Funny thing is," Baldwin said, "you'll see them playing in the next game. That's just the nature of the beast. Everybody clearly understands what the story is. They're going to practice if they're healthy, they're not going to practice if they're not healthy."
If the Philippines are fully fit, or close to full strength at the OQT while being roared on by their home fans, they're going to be tough to beat. They showed plenty of intensity and quality the past two summers, at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and last year at the FIBA Asia Championship in China. Castro is clearly a player that Baldwin does not want to do without.

Baldwin says there is no use trying to wrap players up in cotton wool. Professionals go all out during practices and games. They have to give full effort, 100 percent. They need to crash the boards or dive on the floor or into the stands for loose balls. It's in their DNA.
"Nobody's going to guard against injuries for Gilas," said Baldwin, who was speaking to reporters at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center inside the Ateneo de Manila University.
I told the guys when they're participating with Gilas, we're not going to guard against injuries for their PBA teams. You can't do that in sports. You cannot protect yourself. If you do that, then you're not an elite player. These are elite players. When you play at an elite level, when you practice at an elite level you're exposed to injury and you’re at a risk. That's the way it is. - Baldwin
The OQT in Manila runs from 5-10 July. If Gilas finish in the top two after playing France and New Zealand, they will take on one of the Group A sides - Turkey, Senegal or Canada - in a Semi-Final. The winners of the Semi-Finals will play for a spot in the Olympics.




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