MANILA, Philippines – National team head coach Tab Baldwin is in charge of forming the Gilas and Sinag Pilipinas teams and turning them into winners. But if he had a say on their look, he hopes they would wear jerseys with a single name on it: Pilipinas.
“I honestly hope that we don’t put their individual names on the back of the uniforms,” he said during one of Sinag Pilipinas’ practices, “because with this team the only name that matters is the name Philippines in the front of the uniform.”
The FIBA Rulebook, as of October 2014, does not specify the need for player names on jerseys in its provisions on uniforms (Rule 3, Art. 4.3, pages 11-12). But in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, all teams had player names on their jerseys.
Removing a player’s name from the back of a uniform is a statement and a commitment in itself – that no individual is higher than the team or the flag and country he represents. It alludes to a team-first mentality.
“We have to pay homage to that (the name Philippines), we have to honor that, and we have to respect that, and we have to try to bring glory to that in everything that we do,” Baldwin added.
Since he was appointed head coach of the nationals, Baldwin immediately expressed his determination to mine players that are made of much more than just talent and skill.
“We will vet the players in terms of their character and qualities. It's not just how the play on the floor,” he said in a press conference last December where he was introduced as coach.
He showed he was serious about that during the 2015 PBA All-Star Weekend in Palawan earlier this month, where he reportedly made the effort to interact with players and get to know them better.
“When we issue a Gilas Pilipinas uniform to a player, we want to make sure the man that stands inside that uniform is prepared to represent the people of this country not just the basketball player but as a person,” he explained.
“That's a tough process so we have to work with a lot of people to ensure that we put the right basketball players in these uniforms.”
Baldwin is currently in the thick of preparing a Sinag Pilipinas squad composed of young non-professional cagers ahead of the SEABA Championship in April and the SEA Games in June. The SEABA tournament serves as a qualifier for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in China this September.