Baldwin dares Gilas: It’s Olympics or bust | Inquirer Sports

Baldwin dares Gilas: It’s Olympics or bust

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 03:49 AM September 16, 2015

GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin says the team’s goal is to win “every single game” in the Fiba Asia Championship in Hunan. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin says the team’s goal is to win “every single game” in the Fiba Asia Championship in Hunan. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Gilas Pilipinas wound up its second day of training behind closed doors in Cebu Tuesday with coach Tab Baldwin driving one message hard into the minds of his crew.

“It’s not about going there [Fiba Asia Olympic qualifier] to play well, [we’re going] there to bring home the hardware (champion’s trophy),” Baldwin was quoted by Sports5 as telling the team after two practice sessions yesterday.

“Every single person’s goal is Rio (de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Olympics),” Baldwin said, as quoted by reporter Carlo Pamintuan. “Our goal is to win every single game out there.”

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Sports5, the media outlet owned by tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, who also bankrolls the Gilas Pilipinas program, was the only media entity allowed to see the practices.

Baldwin and the Nationals end camp and fly back to Manila on Friday.

The national team is refining its battle plan and sharpening the weapons it will use in the Fiba Asia Championship, which gets going on Sept. 23 in Changsa City in China’s Hunan province. The Filipinos debut against Palestine in the tournament’s lightest grouping.

Gilas battles Hong Kong the next day followed by Palestine on Sept. 25 in games that Baldwin has said should help his players gather all the momentum and confidence they need for the bigger games ahead.

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The Fiba Asia is staking just one continental slot in the Rio de Janeiro Games. For the Philippines to return to the Olympics for the first time since 1972, it would have to win the title.

And that would mean crossing paths with powerhouses South Korea, China and Iran at one point in the knockout stages.

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Iran has been an unconquerable enemy in the recent past for the Philippines, with the Filipinos’ last victory coming in the 2012 Jones Cup when the Iranians played without 7-foot-2 NBA veteran Hamed Haddadi.

The Iranians have won every game that followed, counting a victory in the finals of the 2013 Fiba Asia in Manila and in the recent Jones Cup, which they ruled even without gunslinger Samad Nikha Bahrami.

Baldwin earlier told the Inquirer that the coaching staff would device ways to stop the Iranians, who he said “are tough defensively.”

The coaches are also looking at altering the game of gunner Terrence Romeo a bit so he could contribute more at the point.

The GlobalPort mainstay made heads turn in the Jones Cup for his daredevil gunslinger play, but Baldwin said they would ask him to abandon his “gunslinger” ways.

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“I played in the PBA without knowing my strengths; I didn’t know enough,” Romeo said in Filipino during a mini press conference in Cebu yesterday. “Now I’m slowly learning.”

TAGS: Gilas Pilipinas, Tab Baldwin

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