Baldwin expects Gilas will steady ship in time for New Zealand

MANILA, Philippines – If there is one thing head coach Tab Baldwin finds reassuring about Gilas Pilipinas, it is that his team is built to withstand adversity like true professionals.

After squandering an early lead and losing to France to open their 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament campaign, Baldwin was asked how he would manage his players into letting go of the what-could-have-been in time to focus on the next task at hand. 

Baldwin, known for his candor, showed no trace of worry in that respect when he allowed himself a smile before sharing his wisdom.

“That’s easy. If you’re that unprofessional that you can’t leave a possession behind and leave a game behind because you’ve got an important possession or important game in front of you, then you shouldn’t play at this level,” the 28-year coaching veteran put it bluntly. 

“It stings a little bit because we proved we had a chance in this game. There were a lot of doubters as to whether we could compete. So they feel bad and they feel disappointed but 24 hours take care of a lot of things in life.”

The Philippine national men’s basketball team, which blew an early 10-point lead and lost its surging momentum to the more experience French squad, now braces to overcome another daunting challenge in New Zealand. 

The Philippines, ranked 28th in the world, will try to salvage a victory and hope it will be enough to reach the second round and keep their bid for a Rio Olympics ticket alive. The Tall Blacks, ranked 21st by FIBA, are considered a more manageable foe compared to the powerhouse Les Bleus. 

Baldwin trusts that his men won’t need any histrionics to get themselves locked in on New Zealand. 

“Putting this loss behind us and the importance of tomorrow’s game should do everything that we need,” he said. “I don’t think our coaching staff needs to give any motivational talk. We understand the task. I’m pretty confident the guys are capable of doing it.” –