Gilas coach Tab Baldwin expects the national team to slug it out against Turkey come Friday night when they clash in the two squad’s final friendly game, 4 days before the opening of the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament at the Mall of Asia Area.
Hammered by the Turkish national squad by 35 points in Istanbul last week, Baldwin said since Day One, he has reminded his players to go hard and play their best every time they step on the court.
“Every time we walk on the floor, we try to win the game, but we’re not gonna use a tactical approach because our preparation is more geared towards France in our official game,” Baldwin told FOX Sports, before heading to the Mall of Asia Arena for the team’s closed-door Thursday evening practice.
The Gilas-Turkey match is scheduled at 7 p.m.
Baldwin said they intend to learn as much as they can from the game against Turkey, a team that’s bannered by NBA veteran big man Omer Asik and sweet-shooting wingman Birkan Batu, who torched Gilas with 25 points last week.
The American-Kiwi mentor said the Turkey game will give them the chance to work on their pick-and-roll defense, a spot Gilas needs to improve on if it hopes to beat a stacked-up French side heading to the FIBA OQT opening day next week.
“We’re really looking early at France because the game against Turkey is just another preparation game,” shared Baldwin, whose Gilas side placed 3rd in the 4-national pocket tournament in Bologna, Italy after squeaking past China, 72-69.
“And since we assembled from the very beginning, one of our primary concerns was our pick and roll defense,” he added.
“We didn’t have a good understanding in the pick and roll defense because it requires a lot of teaching. It goes back to the time of (former Gilas coach) Chot and we recognized how far behind we were in ball screen defense, something we worked on in practice,” explained the 57-year-old Gilas mentor. – By Richard Dy
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