Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said that he believes the Philippine national team could win the gold medal in the 28th FIBA Asia Championship Olympic qualifying tournament in Changsha, China on September 23 to October 3.
“I believe that we’re a competitive team now that can win the gold,” Baldwin told The Manila Times on Wednesday in a phone interview. “The selection process of the final 12 was a difficult one, but I’m very confident that we have a best chance to win with these 12 guys.”
Baldwin said that Gilas’ participation in the four-nation Estonia Cup and the Jones Cup tournament allowed him to learn the individual game of his players. “It revealed everything and we’re improving each day which is very important,” he said.
Baldwin released on Tuesday the list of the 12 players who will be members of the national team that will compete in the FIBA Asia Olympic qualifying tournament. Included in the roster are Calvin Abueva, Dondon Hontiveros, Sonny Thoss, Andray Blatche, Terrence Romeo, Ranidel De Ocampo, Matt Roser-Ganuelas, Jayson Castro, JC Intal, Jean Marc Pingris, Gabe Norwood and Paul Asi Taulava.
“My job as a coach is to put the best winning combination. I don’t care about the popularity because my main objective is how to bring home the gold and qualify in the Olympics,” said Baldwin. “Our team must have reliable shooters, defenders and rebounders.”
He also defended the selection of Barako Bull guard-forward Intal, “JC has a good size at the No. 3 position. He is also a good defender and great shooter. We need somebody like him,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said that players who did not make it to the final 12 like Gary David and Troy Rosario of Talk ‘N Text are still attending practices.
“Gary and Troy are great players who are very professional. They are both in the reserve list. If someone gets injured, they will be tapped because they are part of the 24-man list,” he said.