Gilas Pilipinas was drawn with Palestine, Kuwait, and an East Asia qualifier in Group B of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship which shall fire off in Changsa, China three months from now.
Although the level competition is relatively easy based on the opponents’ reputation, Philippines Head Coach Tab Baldwin said that it would be “foolish to go there thinking it will be easy.”
“It’s just not my nature to do that,” Baldwin shared on taking the opposition for granted.
“There are always surprises in international basketball. It’s a path to get in in the quarterfinals and ultimately the semifinals. We are going to face good teams eventually whether it is early or late (in the tournament),” he added.
“To be a gold medalist and get to the Olympics we have to beat great teams, whether we get the easier ones or good ones early, it does not matter.”
Baldwin added he has coached national squads in the past that were written off, but went on to surprise the hoops world.
In 2002, Baldwin steered the Pero Cameron-led New Zealand side to the semi-final of the FIBA World Championship, while in 2011 led the Jordanian national team to a silver medal finish in the FIBA Asia Championship, which included wins over powerhouse Iran and the Philippines.
“I’ve been in one of those “easy” teams, and we went on to beat the good teams when I coached teams which were considered easy so I am not going to fall to that trap,” he said. “We need to prepare our team and play the best basketball in every game; respecting our opponent is one of the building blocks to get into the Olympics.”
Baldwin added that the main concern is to assemble the best team for a shot at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.
“We don’t care if they are a lowly-ranked team or a high-ranked team. My concern is if we can bring our team to the fullest potential with the time and players that we have. I am just looking to the opportunity to build the best Gilas team with our ability. I want the best team that we can be and be the toughest (to) beat.”
The PBA will announce the Gilas pool as soon as meetings and consultations with other bodies have been accomplished.
Photo by Nuki Sabio of PBA Images