Baldwin shrugs off Lebanon’s underdog claim vs Gilas
CHANGSHA CITY, China – “That’s a bunch of rubbish.”
Tab Baldwin blurted that out when told that Lebanon coach Veselen Matic had described his Gilas Pilipinas crew as the overwhelming favorite to win their quarterfinal match in the Fiba Asia Olympic Qualifier set Thursday night at Changsha Social Work College Gym here.
“He is just throwing that out to you (media) to print it,” Baldwin said. “His team is a strong team. They came here to advance deep in this tournament like we did. They’re placed to do that, we’re placed a little better to do that.
“I will guarantee you, he will come into that game thinking he can win.”
Baldwin and Matic have a history going up against each other on the big stage, with Baldwin so far having a good amount of success, especially when Matic was handling powerhouse Iran in the 2011 edition in Wuhan, China.
“It’s the quarterfinals now and you can throw all the record out now,” Baldwin said of the Lebanese, who won just two of their six games and was the last team to punch a ticket to the KO stages on Tuesday night.
“This is do-or-die (for everyone).”
Matic would obviously want to get back at Baldwin, who defeated him twice in Wuhan with basically the same Iranian team that has dominated Asian basketball for most of the past decade.
“A couple of times a few years ago, we beat them in 2011,” Baldwin said, referring to them as his Jordan national squad that beat Iran in the group play and then bundled out the heavy favorites in the quarterfinals.
“Coaches don’t do that (match-up with each other). We are just parts of a machine that had a good win that year over a hell of a tough Iranian team like this year,” Baldwin said.
“But it didn’t get us the gold medal that year,” Baldwin stressed, as the Jordanians were on the losing end of a bum call against China in the gold medal game that allowed the Chinese to win by a point.
“Just like this year, it won’t get us the gold medal even if we beat them.”
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