Baldwin on PH-Japan: It’s do-or-die
CHANGSHA CITY, China—Tab Baldwin returned from practice with the rest of Gilas Pilipinas at high noon on Saturday and echoed his message to his players to reporters who interviewed him.
“We’ve got to throw that result out of the window,” Baldwin said, referring to the Jones Cup game against Japan which Team Philippines handily won to sustain its domination of the Japanese.
“It (Jones Cup game) doesn’t mean anything,” Baldwin added. “I think they (Japanese) are playing a bit better now. They’ve got good players, they’ve got good shooters and they’ve got (Yuta) Tabuse, he runs the show pretty well for them.”
Baldwin is now guarding against complacency, that false sense of security that befell the Filipinos in their debut in the Fiba Asia Olympic Qualifier here.
“We can’t afford to slip any further than we slipped in the Palestine game,” Baldwin said, referring to that shock 75-73 loss that now stands as one of the biggest upsets in Asian basketball. “We’ve got to play all these games to win them.”
The Filipinos open up their second round stint against Japan in the 4:45 p.m. game at Changsha Social Work College Gym here, heavily tipped to prevail and score a repeat of a relatively easy 75-60 victory in finishing second in Taipei.
It will be the first of three second-round games for the Filipinos, who are looking to finish at least second after this phase to be in a good position going into the knockout stages starting Wednesday.
The Filipinos finished second in Group B and have a 1-1 record here, with defending champion Iran and Palestine both toting 2-0 slates. Teams do not carry the result against an eliminated squad into the next round.
Team Philippines will not get a crack at the Palestinians again until the KO rounds and the Filipinos would have to hope for Palestine to take a loss or two to tab second place.
China, South Korea, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon and Kazakhstan are in the other group with only the top four advancing to the quarterfinals.
Baldwin, though, thinks that it’s already do-or-die for the Filipinos from hereon because of that slip against the Palestinians.
“We’ll see how it goes, we can’t think of anything other than do-or-die now, really,” he said.
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