Baldwin highlights ‘lucky shot’ remark to build motivation as Gilas battles Korea anew | Inquirer Sports
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Baldwin highlights ‘lucky shot’ remark to build motivation as Gilas battles Korea anew

/ 05:20 AM June 20, 2021

Justine Baltazar had 11 points and nine rebounds to lead Gilas PH’s charge against Indonesia. —PHOTO COURTESY OF FIBA

After the Philippines pipped Korea on SJ Belangel’s buzzer-beater from beyond the arc last Wednesday in a Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers (ACQ) match, coach Cho Sang-hyun was asked about the defeat.

“It was a lucky shot,” the new Korean coach said after the game.

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Tab Baldwin heard about that.

“[F]rankly, I think that’s pretty rich for a coach to walk off … a game in which you lose the game and to claim that it was good luck on the part of your opponent,” the Gilas Pilipinas head coach said after Gilas Pilipinas kept its ACQ slate clean with a 76-51 victory over Indonesia on Friday. “So, we will make sure that that is highlighted and I’m sure that that will give our players a little bit of [an] incentive.”

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“I don’t expect that we will be going out there to make friends on Sunday.”

Of course, Baldwin could merely be slight-hunting; he may be looking for buttons to push so his young squad pursues further education and doesn’t waste an opportunity to go into Sunday’s match against Korea swinging. After all, while the game is meaningless in the ACQ scheme of things, it does provide the national program with a legitimate game to continue measuring its progress—and finetuning its weaknesses.

In fact, Baldwin had called the celebration over the Philippines’ victory over a country that has dealt it its most painful defeats “a bit premature.”

And understandably so. Wednesday’s triumph, after all, was just one of the many matches for his young wards in the long and winding trek that leads to Gilas Pilipinas’ homestand in the 2023 World Cup.

“We have dual priorities and these priorities are to do everything that we can in the short-term, to prepare for the long-term, but also, to try and win games,” Baldwin said. “So, fortunately, as we go through the process of preparing for the game on Sunday, that’s a learning curve for the players in itself—to learn how to prepare for a game, to learn scouting reports and how to take that on to the floor. So it’s both a short-term goal of the team, to be able to play as well as we can against Korea, but also, to learn how to do that with a very short turnaround in terms of preparing to play the big games and tournaments.” Besides, a lot could have been lost in translation when it came to Cho’s comments and in reality, he may have never meant the remark to be dismissive.

But Baldwin needs to manufacture motivation for Gilas Pilipinas against Korea because practice games against powerhouse Asian squads aren’t exactly dotting the national program’s calendar.

So a little chip—real or imagined—on the shoulders of the young Filipinos as they plunge into the 3 p.m. rematch with the Koreans at Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga will do a lot of good, especially since a lot of the Gilas Pilipinas players are too young to be caught up in the rivalry of both countries.

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What they’ve soaked up and have been schooled with is the CliffsNotes version of the rivalry, which is enough for them to know what to expect.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” said naturalized center Ange Kouame.

“That game’s going to be a battle,” added Dwight Ramos, the Philippines’ steadiest performer in the last two windows. “I know they’re going to come out strong and show that our win is just a fluke.”

“So we just have to prove to [South Korea] … that we’re not something that could be taken lightly,” added Ramos.

“We’re young but we got that heart. That ‘puso.’”

Safe to say they got Baldwin’s message. INQ

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TAGS: Basketball, Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers (ACQ), Gilas PH, SJ Belangel
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