Baldwin sees positives for Gilas despite early OQT exit

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine men’s national basketball team became the first nation to get eliminated in the FIBA Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament after losing to New Zealand on Wednesday, July 6, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Gilas Pilipinas wound up losing its only two games of the tourney - the other one was against France a night earlier - and will have to watch from the sidelines as the 5 remaining teams compete for the ticket to the Rio Olympics.

But despite the early exit and disappointing defeats, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin still sees positives in the national team’s campaign.

“You betcha there’s a lot of positive,” Baldwin said during the post-game press conference on Wednesday. “There’s positives for all of us individually in that we had tremendous unique experiences this year with the program that we ran [and] the opportunity to play here in Manila in front of our own fans.

“That’s a big positive for the SBP, for the Philippine fans, Philippine basketball, and for us to be the representatives in that environment, that’s a memory that we’ll keep with us forever.”

Baldwin also emphasized how important it was for the Philippines, which was the lone representative from FIBA Asia in the Manila OQT, to play against this high level of international competition.

“It’s a positive that we get this competitive experience for Philippine basketball players, but it’s also an eye-opener for us to understand that we need a lot more of this if we expect to be successful in this level,” said the 58-year-old head coach. 

“Certainly, we were competitive, and that’s a positive, because there probably was a time when we probably wouldn’t be competitive at this level.”

Baldwin also stated that despite the talent discrepancy Gilas usually faces against the world’s powerhouses, the national team goes into each game with the expectation to win, not just compete.

“We competed well in this tournament, but we don’t expect to come to big tournaments and to compete. We expect to come and get some wins, and progress, especially when we’re at home. So we have to sit back, we have to analyze why that didn’t happen and we have to try and fix it,” he said.

“We need more of this, and this is the pathway. Trust me there is no other pathway. If we want to start winning at this level, we got to take a bunch more beatings at this level to learn how to win at this level.” –