MANILA, Philippines – New Zealand gave Gilas Pilipinas a harsh reality check at the second window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers after the Tall Blacks cruised to an 88-63 blowout at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, February 27.
After a physical and competitive first half, things turned for the worse in the third quarter as New Zealand pulled away thanks to incredible chemistry, and patient execution.
The blowout got bad enough that loud “We want Baldwin!” chants tore through the deafening silence at Araneta in the waning moments of the third quarter.
That was, of course, a reference to former Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin, who mysteriously stepped down from his post right as the February window was around the corner.
Chot Reyes was hastily reappointed in his stead, and Baldwin has not explained his side to the public ever since.
These moves also coincided with the mass exodus of the initial full-time Gilas PBA draftees, namely Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, Allyn Bulanadi, and twins Matt and Mike Nieto.
The chants persisted in the final frame as the rout got progressively worse. Some fans also shouted “Ibalik si Baldwin!” (Bring back Baldwin) at the direction of the Gilas bench.
The jeers eventually turned back to applause as the final buzzer sounded, but the fact remains that the fans, in their rare chance to see Gilas again up close, let their displeasure be known.
It remains to be seen what the next moves will be for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) regarding the fate of the ragtag national team. – Rappler.com