Tab Baldwin plays to win.
Baldwin admitted he is not a fan of “moral victories” even after Gilas Pilipinas put up a valiant effort against host Serbia in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).
The young Filipinos erased a 16-point deficit and kept the world No. 5 Serbians on their toes until the final minute but ultimately fell short of a massive upset as they absorbed a 76-83 loss.
“A lot of people will look at this as some sort of moral victory. I’ve been in this game [for] such a long time, I just don’t believe in those,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin and his wards had plenty of chances late to put Serbia in a precarious situation.
Down by only a whisker with two minutes left, 76-77, Justine Baltazar and SJ Belangel missed wide-open three-pointers that would have given the Philippines a two-point lead.
The Filipinos failed to score throughout the final two minutes as the Serbians capitalized, with NBA big man Boban Marjanovic delivering 4 of their last 6 points to seal the deal.
“We had chances late. We missed good open looks,” Baldwin said.
“[T]hey were really good looks so they would have put Serbia under even more pressure than they were under late in the game.”
Still, Baldwin said he is “proud” of how the Philippines competed, especially with Serbia expected to come away with a lopsided win against a team composed mostly of collegiate standouts.
“[S]ometimes, particularly with a young team and a developing team, the occasion – it can be a bit bigger than we are – but that’s what the learning process is all about, so I was very proud of the effort today,” Baldwin said.
“I want to play better than we played, and I know that we can play better, and we will play better. But certainly the flow of the game was very competitive and we put in a great effort.”
One thing is for sure, though, as the all-cadet Gilas Pilipinas – although lacking in experience in terms of international play – proved it can stand toe-to-toe against a powerhouse like Serbia.
“Apart from a little bit of composure late, I thought we answered most of the questions that were asked of us by Serbia today,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin and the Philippines turn their focus on Dominican Republic as they lock horns on Friday, July 2 (Manila time), with the winner advancing to the OQT semifinals. – Rappler.com