Gilas Pilipinas ruled the 2015 MVP Cup just as it was expected to make more improvements in their performance leading to the FIBA Asia Championship.
Head coach Tab Baldwin is pleased with how the national team performed in the three-day tournament, as it drew different challenges which helped the team grow and learn more.
“It was successful not just because we ended up winning it but we had challenges and we played different styles of basketball in all three games,” Baldwin said, adding he looks forward to more editions of the pocket tournament for the fans and for the team’s benefit.
“For us, we definitely had the benefit of the tournament and we are obviously thrilled with the result. We look forward to the second MVP Cup next year. We can defend the title now. We should build on this, and try to attract more quality competition each year,” he said.
“Each day the crowd got bigger and people were exposed to good basketball. We want to see more of that in the Philippines for our fans.”
Baldwin however, is wary that there are still lapses made by the team which nobody wants to see when they play in the biggest stage of Asian basketball.
“We didn’t play great tonight. We played a Chinese Taipei team that didn’t play arguably the best wing player (Lin Chih-Chieh) and then Tseng Wen-Ting,” Baldwin shared.
“We controlled the game but it is not a fair gauge of how we can play them the next time because of changes in the roster.”
Baldwin adds there is a stark disparity between Gilas’ cohesion compared to Asia’s top-caliber teams, and they have to get to that level.
“The biggest concern for me going to FIBA Asia is that there are many professional teams there. I feel we are not as professional yet as we need to be. We still had silly basketball mistakes. Our transition defense was terrible tonight. We turned the ball recklessly at times. A professional team does not do that,” Baldwin said.
“So for the coaching staff we need to find a balance between the players’ expressive ability to play (on offense) and harnessing that into a structured system. A lot of that depends on them. It’s that they exercise discipline in their play and they allow freedom of expression in their play at the right moments. That’s the big key for us, what are the right moments.”
The mentor hopes Gilas can build on what is left of their preparation time become an even better team in terms of cohesion and being professional on the floor.
He believes in his team, and thinks the Philippines can get better in time for the Olympic qualifiers.
“That’s still a learning curve for us. That’s where were at. We are not comortable but I don’t want to be comfortable. This team is a very new and young team in terms of time together and training opportunities,” he said.
“You can’t expect to have all the cohesion in the world and expect fluid basketball. We are not yet ready yet but we still have a week of seclusion and we can get better.”
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