Marcial lauds Baldwin, says Gilas ‘battle ready’ ahead of OQT
MANILA, Philippines — For PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, what Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin did in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers was nothing short of spectacular.
The Philippines went a perfect 6-0 in the qualifiers and three of those wins were under Baldwin, two against South Korea and one against Indonesia.
Gilas’ win against South Korea on June 16 was its first win against its longtime rival since 2013 and the young team followed it up with another one at the end of the tournament four days later.
“When I watched the Korea games, that country has always been our opposite, I saw that coach Tab was hiding our offense and he switched the defense in the two games. The first game he rotated the defense and the second he employed a man-to-man scheme,” said Marcial in Filipino Saturday.
“He was confusing the opponents. Those games were evident how great of a coach Tab is when it comes to basketball.”
While the Philippines went perfect in the Asian qualifiers, Marcial said that the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia will be different.
Gilas is lumped with Serbia and the Dominican Republic in Group A while Group B consists of Puerto Rico, Italy, and Senegal.
“The problem now in the OQT is the size of the players. They’re not just experienced but they’re built bigger,” said Marcial.
While the Dominican Republic doesn’t have a 7-footer, its tallest is 6-foot-11 center Eloy Vargas, Serbia has 7-foot-4 giant Boban Marjanovic of the Dallas Mavericks and 7-foot big man Nikola Milutinov of CSKA Moscow in Russia.
The host nation also has 6-foot-10 stretch four Nemanja Bjelica of the Miami Heat and 6-foot-11 center Filip Petrusev of Mega Bemax in Serbia.
Nevertheless, Marcial believes that the experience Gilas got in the Asia Cup Qualifiers would be of great help for the team’s campaign.
“Guys like Isaac (Go) have so much experience already from the Jones Cup, in Ateneo,” said Marcial. “You really can’t measure the experience they got so they’re already battle ready.”