Baldwin proud of Gilas 5.0's effort, experience gained at FIBA Asia Challenge
MANILA, Philippines – Though far away, Philippine national team coach Tab Baldwin is proud of the young men who just wrapped up their 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge campaign in Tehran, Iran.
Baldwin was absorbed in the Ateneo Blue Eagles' latest victory over defending UAAP champion FEU Tamaraws Wednesday, September 14, when Gilas Pilipinas 5.0 suffered a tough 119-105 loss to Jordan, ending the team's first high-level international stint on a low note.
He wasn't able to watch Gilas' final performance as it happened, but Baldwin remained satisfied with the overall effort the team put in.
"I'm proud of them. I'm proud they had the courage to go into that environment because that's not easy for the kids, it's not easy for that coaching staff," said Baldwin, who serves as consultant for the Blue Eagles.
"I thought they grew, they learned as they went through the tournament. That's exactly what we sent them there for," he added.
"To those people that want some different result than what we sent them there for, it’s unrealistic. We said that before they went. We're consistent in saying it now after the fact."
Gilas 5.0 is an all-Filipino squad of collegiate standouts led by last year's UAAP Finals MVP Mac Belo, former FEU stars Mike Tolomia and Roger Pogoy, as well as ex-UST skipper and marksman Kevin Ferrer.
This team, whose players are former Gilas cadets, stood against some of Asia's more experienced crews like India, Chinese-Taipei, China, Kazakhstan, and Jordan.
Gilas lost by an average of 9.7 points in the first 3 outings as they were unable to sustain their good play and leads, especially in fourth quarters.
They finally reached a breakthrough in a 98-86 victory over Kazakhstan. But they lost steam in their final game against Jordan for the 14-point setback where they trailed by as much as 24-5 early on.
Coach Josh Reyes, Baldwin's assistant who manned the sidelines for this tournament, said before leaving for Iran that the goal was to gain experience and learn how to do battle against much tougher teams.
"We knew full well what they were going into. This was a developmental exercise and it's never ideal to have a national team that's a developmental exercise but, really, what other options did we have? We weren't going to get PBA players," Baldwin explained.
"These are the kids that we believe have the potential, some of them, to be the future Gilas so it was very important that they get experience. Obviously everybody would like better results but nobody more than the players. Nobody wants good results more than the players."
It is from this Gilas 5.0 roster that Baldwin and his coaching staff will select those who will make it to the final team set to prepare for next year's FIBA Asia Continental Cup, marking the shift in FIBA's calendar.
"I'm proud of them. I'm proud of the effort they put in. I'm proud that they got a win. I'm proud that they showed effort and desire and puso (heart) the whole time and that's what we asked of them," Baldwin said.
"Now they come home more seasoned players. Now they understand what it's like and so we're going to be better for that." – Rappler.com