Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tab Baldwin on Gilas Pilipinas: It’s a time for courage.

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Tab Baldwin on Gilas Pilipinas: It’s a time for courage.
by rick olivares

On the eve of perhaps the biggest game in Philippine basketball history — the FIBA Olympic Qualifying match versus the fifth best side in the world in France — Philippines head coach Tab Baldwin took time to ask each and everyone of his wards to look inside of themselves and look for that courageous man. 

Gilas Pilipinas was the last team to practice at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday evening, the 4th of July. Upon return to the team hotel, they held their traditional post-practice meal and talked about the day’s proceedings.

Head coach Tab Baldwin who guided the nationals to a silver medal finish in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championships spoke of the magnitude of the match versus Tony Parker and company. The words of advice that he parted wasn’t the rah-rah sort that everyone in the room must have heard thousands of times over in their basketball lives. Instead, he asked them to reach out to that person inside them that brought them to this point, this stage of their career.

"They have to understand you don’t just walk up to big occasion and not prepare for it and expect to do well. There’s a process and they should look in the mirror and find that courageous person inside of them and come out. Because the bigger the stakes, the bigger the hurt when you fail. Of course, the bigger the joy when you succeed.” 

"I think it takes a courageous man to walk in that arena and be the same man you are when you are in practice. I told them, that they were all little kids at one time and they loved the game of basketball. They walked into a park and played five-on-five pick-up game somewhere and they were the smallest kid. It took courage to do that. It took courage to try out for a school team as the new kid. It took courage to challenge the player ahead of them. They may have not thought that it was an act of courage but it was something inside that allowed them to do that and that something is still there. And that’s what they have to tap into them.”

"Twenty-two thousand people in front of them is a different kettle of fish for them. While it may motivate them it can also freeze them. This is their opportunity knowing that you could fail and succeed. It’s a gut check and you have to take yourself through that. I do this all the time for myself. I know I say to myself, every time expectations are raised, I realize the magnitude of failure is more significant and I prepare myself for that. If I have to face that, I don’t want to be daunted. I want to be one of those people who when they get knocked off that horse, I draw upon that courage to get back on top of it. I prepare myself pretty well for that. I go in because you do what it takes to prepare. You try to give your team every tool to succeed that you can. 

The game is something the basketball gods can only understand and is not for humans because we are imperfect. We will be imperfect but so will France. And our job is to find more imperfections in them than they can find in us. We need to do a good job in exploiting that and come out with a lot of courage."

Chatting with Tab Baldwin on a late Monday evening.

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