Gilas continues collecting valuable takeaways after OQT crash
MANILA, Philippines–There’s a copious amount of takeaways to be soaked up in Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, which came to an anticlimactic end after a 94-67 loss to the Dominican Republic on early Friday morning (Manila time).
“There are so many,” coach Tab Baldwin said, shortly after the match at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall, where this current cast of the national team absorbed its biggest defeat, barely 24 hours removed from a near-upset of World No. 5 Serbia.
“[L]essons on how to handle measured success, how to handle complacency, how to handle expectations, how to handle your opposition, various styles of play, how to adapt,” he went on.
But nothing bears more weight more than the one that says about the team itself, according to Baldwin, who is also the brains behind the national cage program.
“The biggest lesson is something we probably already know: We have a tremendous amount to learn and need to be able to treat measured success, real success, the same as we treat defeat and failure,” he said.
Gilas got reality checks at virtually every front. The Filipinos, who once enjoyed a 33-25 edge in the first half, looked in disarray in the third frame owing to frosty shooting and turnover-riddled plays.
The Dominicans pounced on the Filipinos’ struggles and launched a counterattack to pull away.
“We didn’t stand up to the pressure,” said Baldwin, who drew 16 points from Jordan Heading and 10 more Ange Kouame—the only double-digit scorers from Gilas.
“No excuses and not much to say about it other than that we were outplayed, outcoached, and outgunned,” Baldwin added of the losing effort, where the Philippines were outperformed in nearly every statistical category.
“So I told the guys, look your questioners directly in the eye and understand that people have the right to question the way that we played tonight and we answer the question: we played badly. Then we move on. I think that’s going to be one of the lessons that we have to take out of this because every day isn’t a great day, but every day is an opportunity to get better,” Baldwin added.
But as many as the lessons are, the Gilas mentor said there’s also a bevy of reasons to be proud of the crew he currently has.
“I think we’re blessed with really good young basketball players who unfortunately have a lot to learn—or maybe fortunately because they have a great attitude about learning,” he said.
This should be valuable now, considering the long and winding trek leading up to what Baldwin and the national federation hope is a successful homestand in the 2023 World Cup.
The education for the Philippines’ young turks continues later this month, when they plunge back right into training in Calamba sometime around “July 20 or 25” for the Fiba Asia Cup which tips off Aug. 17 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
And by that time, Baldwin hopes to reel in the likes of Allyn Bulanadi, Rey Suerte, Dave Ildefonso, Matt Nieto, and even Thirdy Ravena for another tour of duty.
“I don’t know exactly who’s going to be available to bring in, but you know, I think it’s time to give everybody the figures in our 2023 plans the chance,” he said in a previous interview.
“You know, there’s never enough time, so we have to squeeze every possibility that we can and through the opportunities that we have,” he added.
And as far as tapping pros for the continental meet is concerned, Baldwin said that such a discussion is “above his pay grade.”
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