Gilas lacks heart without Abueva, says Manotoc
TOMMY Manotoc, who coached some of the best individual talents of yesteryears and arguably the best team of all time in the PBA, keeps tabs of developments on the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will try to win an Olympic berth for the country next week.
Along with practically the entire nation, Manotoc – the first coach to break the Crispa-Toyota stranglehold in the pro league – said he was surprised at the final cuts that National coach Tab Baldwin made.
“That team just lost a lot of heart,” Manotoc told the Inquirer over the phone, referring to Calvin Abueva and LA Tenorio’s exclusion from the squad that gets going against France and Tony Parker at the start of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament on July 5 at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We all don’t know what coach Tab (Baldwin) saw in training camp (in Karpenisi, Greece) and we’re not here to second-guess him,” Manotoc said. “But that cut on Abueva was really surprising.”
Troy Rosario, the Tropang TNT rookie in the PBA, and Ray Parks, the only non-PBA player to make the Final 12, were actually the surprise choices of Baldwin, being unseasoned in international play, and all.
Andray Blatche, Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, June Mar Fajardo, Marc Pingris, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jason Castro, Ryan Reyes, Japeth Aguilar and Terrence Romeo were the ones who made the team.
Gilas has one final tune-up game, which will be against Turkey on July 1, before it embarks on the quest for the Rio Olympics.
And Manotoc, the architect of the Redmanizer’s 1983 Grand Slam season, believes that each and every member of the final roster now needs to be able to come up with the energy that Abueva would have provided this National team.
“Sure, we have the talent and that team has the size now,” Manotoc went on. “But you can never teach a player to have heart. That’s from within. You can never teach anyone to dive for loose balls and play with reckless abandon each and every minute he is on the floor,” Manotoc said. “That’s what we will miss. And that’s the level of intensity that the rest of the team would need to play with.”
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