Gold all that matters for Gilas five, says Baldwin
That’s how new Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin describes the draw the Filipinos found themselves in when they gun for a berth in the Olympics in the Fiba Asia Championship slated in China in late September.
“I don’t really look at it as easy or hard. Our goal is to really win the gold,” said Baldwin, a day after learning that the Philippines will be in Group B together with Palestine, Kuwait and the East Asia champion.
Baldwin stressed that to top the tournament and book the only Asian slot at stake for the Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil next year, the Philippines will have to go through the light, as well as heavyweight foes, along the way.
“We will face teams that are ranked below us, and we will also be playing teams that are ranked above us,” Baldwin said. “We have to go and we have to play.
“I’ve been in so many of these tournaments, and there are always surprises,” he added. “I don’t want to be in those surprises.”
As host, China was awarded the privilege to choose its group. It opted to play in Group C together with South Korea, Jordan and Singapore, a rock-solid bracket of contenders the Chinese chose to clash with early so it could avoid them late in the tournament.
Tournament format calls for each team to play its groupmates once with the top three in each bracket advancing to join the top three in another bracket to form another group.
The Philippines is expected to easily make the top three in Group B, which will merge with Group A to form Group E. Group A members include powerhouse Iran, Japan, Malaysia and the South Asian champion.
Group D is composed of Chinese-Taipei, Lebanon, Qatar and Kazakhstan, the top three of which will join their counterparts from China’s group to comprise Group F.
The second round will be another round robin among six teams, their records in the first round carried over, with the top two from Groups E and F advancing to play in the cross-over Final Four.
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