Fiba Asia: Light draw for PH doesn’t matter for coach Baldwin
Whether Gilas Pilipinas got the relatively easy path first before the hard part or the other way around, it doesn’t matter for national team head coach Tab Baldwin as long as they end up with the gold medal in the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship this September in China.
The Philippines will play Asia’s lightweights in the first round of the tournament after being drawn in the same bracket as Palestine, Kuwait and the East Asian champion, who could either be Hong Kong or Mongolia in Group B.
“I don’t have much to say really. I’ve been in these things many times and the original draw doesn’t really mean much,” said Baldwin, who was at courtside during a quarterfinals game between defending Governors’ Cup champion Star and GlobalPort. “If you’re aspiring to win a gold medal, you gotta beat the good teams anyway whether you have to beat them early in the draw or late in the draw it doesn’t really matter.”
“This Asian championship is gonna have some strong teams, Iran, China and Korea, Lebanon and Taipei will be tough. So somewhere along the way we’re going to run into these teams or some of these teams — that means that every game in our preparation and every game in the tournament is important in terms of building up to play those tough games,” Baldwin added.
The Philippines, which won the silver medal in the previous championship held here in Manila two years ago, is tipped to easily be part of the top three teams of its group that will advance in the second round where the real challenge begins.
In the second round, the Philippines’ group will be merged with Group A, which includes reigning Asian champion Iran, Japan, Malaysia and South Asian champion.
Baldwin doesn’t want to look too far ahead and instead concentrates on which teams Gilas will take on first—and he’s not taking any team lightly no matter what their standings are in the region.
“I don’t really watch the draw too closely. For me it only matters that now we have to do some scouting on Palestine and on Kuwait and probably on Hong Kong or Mongolia and we’ll do that and we need to play good basketball against those teams and don’t take them lightly,” said Baldwin, who steered the Gilas Cadets to a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games early this month in Singapore. “Same as when it was with the SEA Games we need to respect our opponents and prepare to play their best basketball.”
“I have no preferences, you can’t,” Baldwin insisted. “It doesn’t matter if you have preferences. The draw is the draw. We’re gonna get who we get and we see who we’ve got and nobody’s gonna change it so it really doesn’t matter what I prefer.”
Baldwin knows even though the Filipinos got a light assignment in the early stages they’re going to have to play heavyweights at one point to get the coveted gold medal.
“You gotta play them to win the gold and we’re going there to win a gold. We’re not going there to play various teams or certain teams. We’re going there to play whatever games we have to play to win a gold medal and this draw is going to provide that just like any draw would.” CFC
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