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Impressive Gilas performance forces Baldwin to delay "Final 14" announcement

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Gilas fans may need to wait a little longer before they find out who will join the crucial European training camp for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Coach Tab Baldwin decided to postpone the announcement of the "Final 14" who will go to various places in the said continent as part of their buildup for the OQT next month.

"I hate to disappoint everybody. I just talked to the boys about it," Baldwin told the media about deferring to disclose the shortlisted players following Gilas' 81-70 win against Iran in a tuneup on Wednesday night.

Baldwin, however, admitted that he was already keen on announcing who will make the Euro trip only to see the team put up an impressive showing in the tail end of a back-to-back against Iran despite a near breakdown late in the game.

"We were very close to a decision, but tonight's game kinda makes us rethink things.... Credits to the players that they're making this decision extremely difficult," he bared.

Five players led by Andray Blatche finished in double figures with the most glaring being Japeth Aguilar's perfect clip, Ryan Reyes' hot shooting, and Ray-Ray Parks' efficient offense.

Overall, Gilas shot 47 percent (29-of-62) from the field and 78 percent (14-of-18) from the line, made nine triples, and committed less turnovers (12).

However, Baldwin announced two cuts from the 17 players who are left in the training pool.

"I can say that Mo Tautuaa and Kiefer Ravena are not in consideration for the training camp in Greece, and that brings the number down to 15," Baldwin revealed the latest cuts.

Both Tautuaa, who is serving as Gilas' backup naturalized player despite being Fil-Am due to a rule requiring players of mixed descent to get a passport from the country they are representing, and Ravena, the lone Gilas Cadet left among the remaining 17, did not play on Wednesday night despite suiting up.

On the other hand, Baldwin reiterated that despite the injury bug to both Marcio Lassiter and Jeff Chan, both shooters remain in the "Final 14" race along with the 13 who got playing time in the game.

"They are still both in consideration for the trip," the gaffer said in particular

On how he will come up with the shortlist, Baldwin said, "The coaches are gonna go to dinner now. We're gonna sit down, and we're gonna make the final decision."

Baldwin also said that team manager Butch Antonio will be the one who will make the announcement. The said announcement is expected to come before they fly to Greece on Friday.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno