As fate would have it, Gilas Pilipinas is once again bracketed with rival South Korea in the first round of the FIBA World Cup Asia qualifiers along with New Zealand and India.
Although the Philippines is already guaranteed a spot in the 2023 World Cup as one of the hosts, Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin is still expecting nothing but tough battles from its qualifier group mates, and no less than full effort from the players under his wing.
“We’re gonna be very excited to have the opportunity to play New Zealand,” said the Kiwi Olympic tactician. “I’ve never been to India, and I think Korea will be waiting for us. It should be a great experience. Obviously we have a lot of preparation to do to get ready for this.”
South Korea notably suffered a stunning sweep at the hands of the all-cadet Gilas squad in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, including an 81-78 win off a miraculous SJ Belangel buzzer-beating bank three.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) official Ryan Gregorio is expecting nothing less than a seething fightback from the Koreans in the Asian qualifiers, which is certainly an experience Gilas can take heading into its guaranteed World Cup berth.
“That’s the beauty about basketball, you know that it’s payback time for them. But as long as we’re prepared, we’ve done our extensive scouting report, and we have the pieces who can go up against the tough South Korean team, then I think we should be good,” he said.
Baldwin likewise noted that good old scouting can help a lot against the imposing strength of the Kiwis, and the somewhat unfamiliar prowess the Indians have in their arsenal.
“We need to understand who our opponents are and how to best prepare. With NZ there’s not so much familiarity, and they’re a very tough, very physical team. India has a lot of talent, a lot of size, [but] just not a lot of international experience,” he said.
“Each team presents something different, and I believe that our scouting has to be on point,” he continued. “We have to be ready to dance with whatever opponent with whichever rosters coming from these teams, and put our best roster out there.”
Although the Asian qualifiers don’t start until November this year, Baldwin is already combing through roster combinations that fit well with certain timelines, including the possible re-inclusion of PBA players to compensate for scheduling conflicts.
There is certainly a lot of work left to be done heading to 2023, and there is no better time to start than right now. – Rappler.com