Philippine national team coach Tab Baldwin sees a silver lining on the horizon despite Gilas Pilipinas 5.0’s early exit in the 2016 FIBA Asia Challenge in Tehran, Iran, confident the growing pains will only serve the youthful side to good stead in the future.
The Nationals fell prey to the Sam Daghles-coached Jordan on Wednesday, 105-119, putting an end to their campaign in the continental event that serves as the initial step in determining the qualifiers for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup.
Instead of being disheartened, Baldwin, 58, tipped his hat to the all-amateur Nationals, saying all of them have gained valuable lessons which could help them improve further for future international competitions.
“I’m proud of them and I’m proud of their courage to come in that kind of environment,” said Baldwin following his Ateneo side’s 76-71 victory over defending champion Far Eastern U in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tourney at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Nationals, handled by acting assistant coach Josh Reyes, won only a single game from five matches, a 98-86 victory over Kazakhstan last Tuesday, but that’s enough for Baldwin to be pleased.
“I’m proud of the effort they put in. I’m proud that they got a win. I’m proud they showed effort, desire and puso the whole time. And that’s what we asked of them,” said the current Ateneo coaching consultant. “I thought they improved and learned as they went through the tournament. That’s exactly why we sent them there for.”
Baldwin also took a swipe of the team’s critics, saying they should be more realistic on their expectations on the Nationals side, comprised of the country’s top amateur cagers, who competed with some of the region’s finest as part of its “developmental exercise.”
“To those people who want to have a different result to what we send them there for, it’s unrealistic. We said that before they left and we’re consistent in saying it now. People should learn how to understand what the exercise is,” he said. “It’s not easy for the kids and it’s not easy for the coaching staff. We knew fully well what they’re going into.”
“Obviously everybody would like better results. But nobody wants better results more than the players,” Baldwin added.
Gaining enough experience, something that he’s doing with an equally young Blue Eagles side, is enough for Baldwin to stay optimistic.
“This is a developmental exercise and it’s never ideal to have a national team that’s a developmental exercise. But that’s really the only option that we have. These are the kids that we believe have the potential to be the future Gilas so it’s very important that they gain experience,” he stressed.
“Now they will come home more seasoned players and now they understand what it’s like. We’re going to be better for that,” he concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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