Serbia coach praises Gilas, Baldwin after tight Fiba OQT encounter
MANILA, Philippines—Serbia’s tough win over Gilas Pilipinas earned the Filipinos the praise of head coach Igor Kokoskov.
The world No. 5 Serbia, boasting a slew of veterans and NBA players, needed a late escape to beat the Filipinos, whose roster is made of amateur guys, 83-76, in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.
“First of all, congratulations to the Philippines. They played a really good game tonight,” said Kokoskov.
Kokoskov said that the Philippines’ tenacity can be attributed to Baldwin, who has done wonders for the Gilas program.
“Coach Baldwin is doing a great job, he’s a dear friend of mine. I think he’s doing an awesome job and I’m happy for him,” said Kokoskov, who once coached the Phoenix Suns from 2018 to 2019 and was part of Larry Brown’s staff in the Detroit Pistons team that won the 2004 title.
“I think his team played together and they are competing.”
Serbia has 7-foot-4 giant Boban Marjanovic of the Dallas Mavericks, 6-foot-10 stretch 4 Nemanja Bjelica of the Miami Heat, and crafty 6-foot-5 point guard Milos Teodosic who once played for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Bjelica, however, did not play against the Philippines after getting hurt in Serbia’s previous game against the Dominican Republic.
The Filipinos are also seven years younger than the Serbs who have an average age of 29-years-old.
Gilas, which was down by as much 16 in the third, took a 74-73 lead with 3:50 to play but Marjanovic went on a personal 8-2 run to restore the balance for the Serbs.
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