Tab Baldwin knew how to topple Iran | Inquirer Sports

Tab Baldwin knew how to topple Iran

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 12:50 AM September 29, 2015

Photo from Fiba.com

Photo from Fiba.com

CHANGSHA CITY, China—Of all the coaches in the Fiba Asia Championship here, no one probably has had more success over Iran in the last five years than Tab Baldwin.

And the good thing about it is that he is coaching Gilas Pilipinas this time.

The Filipinos trailed the Iranians by as many as 10 points early on Monday afternoon but Baldwin kept his composure and his big guns on hold, waiting for the right time to strike.

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Andray Blatche and Terrence Romeo cooled their heels at the height of a strong Iranian assault in the second quarter.

Never mind if both silently protested their recall to the bench, especially Romeo, who had just drained a three-pointer and looked like he was ready to get going.

Baldwin preserved Blatche’s strength as best he could, temporarily yielding room to the Iranians who took a nine-point lead late in the first half, before unleashing the 6-foot-11 naturalized center in the final two periods.

That Baldwin could have rested Blatche in the game was a good idea, more so since the Philippines was just looking to at least finish second in the group to assure itself of a stint in the Final Four.

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Blatche sprained his right ankle in a narrow win over Japan on Sunday and was actually listed as doubtful against the Iranians.

Romeo, on the other hand, has been restricted by Baldwin in the first four games, only to be let loose at the right time against the Iranians, baffling the enemy no end in the second half.

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No one will question Baldwin’s wisdom after the Filipinos pulled out an 87-73 victory that sent ripples through the tournament about Gilas’ capability to win it all here.

And the result only reinforced Baldwin’s two wins over Iran as coach of Jordan in the 2011 Fiba Asia in Wuhan.

That year, Baldwin steered the Jordanians past Iran in group play and then in the quarterfinals only to fall short versus China in the gold-medal match, where a bum call ruined his team’s chances and led to a one-point win by the Chinese.

With the win over Iran, the situation looks simple enough for the Filipinos.

Their second match with Iran could now happen only in the gold-medal match—should Gilas go all the way.

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And because of his success against Iran and the nasty history he wants to forget playing in China, Baldwin, at this point, might be thinking of a rematch with the Iranians to get to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

TAGS: 2015 Fiba Asia, Andray Blatche, Basketball, China, Fiba Asia Championship, Gilas Pilipinas, Iran, Jordan, Olympics, Philippines, Tab Baldwin, Terrence Romeo

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