Baldwin thanks ‘noble’ Gilas | Inquirer Sports

Baldwin thanks ‘noble’ Gilas

11:18 PM July 07, 2016

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

TAB BALDWIN was aware of the many emotional scenes at Mall of Asia Arena late Wednesday night, seconds after Gilas Pilipinas bowed out of the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament after an 89-80 loss to New Zealand.

New Zealand is Baldwin’s home country, but his heart belongs here.

“I’ve been in many places and I haven’t seen this much love for the game,” Baldwin told the Inquirer over the phone yesterday, admitting to feeling “pretty rough” after landing way short on the mission of taking the country back to the Games for the first time in 44 years.

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“Whenever you are passionate about something and there is a disappointment, you’re upset,” Baldwin said of how he was feeling.

Gilas took two losses in the same number of days and failed to advance to the Final Four. The Filipinos on Tuesday bowed to Tony Parker and France, 93-84.

“We got beaten by two teams that are ranked higher that us (in the world) and they played better games on those days,” Baldwin went on.

Team Philippines is not used to playing in this level, as it has been busy in the past years trying to reclaim its old status of superiority in the Asian region.

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Last year, Gilas went to China and finished second to the Chinese in the Asian Championship, and the year before, played in the World Cup for the first time in four decades in Seville, Spain, despite finishing second to Iran in Asia.

The exposure to competition in the global level has been few and far between, and Baldwin believes that this is exactly the reason why Gilas failed to get the job done in the OQT.

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“We have to accept the truth that we are not really exposed to playing teams at this level,” Baldwin said. “But for the short time that we had, we made great strides.

“We just fell short.”

After the final buzzer against the Kiwis sounded, fans wiped tears, others seemed shell-shocked and some Gilas players found comfort in family, with June Mar Fajardo going straight to his mother for a tight hug at courtside.

Jeff Chan rushed to his wife, while naturalized center Andray Blatche was motionless on center court, his head bowed as the rest of the team converged on him and gave their final wave to their loyal following.

Skipper Gabe Norwood told his teammates to “be proud” as they huddled for the last time.

RDO says goodbye

Jason Castro hinted on retiring right after the game, while PBA teammate Ranidel de Ocampo said his goodbye from international competition on Twitter as the Philippines, possibly, played its last international game using professionals.

For Baldwin, he said his goodbyes to his players inside the dugout, thanking them for their efforts and sacrifice, “which was noble,” he said.

“It wasn’t the time for analysis,” Baldwin said.

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That time will come for Baldwin and a crew of coaches that will assist him in coming international wars, and hopefully, he and that new team get the job done for this country he cares so much about.

TAGS: Basketball, Gilas Pilipinas, Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament, New Zealand, Rio Olympics, Tab Baldwin

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