Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin admonished his wards to give their best regardless of whom they are playing with in the 28th FIBA Asia Championship Olympic Qualifying tournament starting on Wednesday in Changsha, China.
“I have to tell you this, our priority right now is to win and improve each game. It doesn’t matter what or who our opponent is,” Baldwin told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Monday during the team’s stop over in Hong Kong before taking a flight to Changsha, China.
“We have to give our best.”
“The team is getting better everyday. I believe we can win the gold there,” added Baldwin. “We are more of a team now compared the first time we’ve practice. Everybody is okay and inspired to win.”
The Gilas Pilipinas national team, headed by 6’11 naturalized Filipino center-forward Andray Blatche, will battle Palestine for its first game in the preliminary round of the meet on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. The team will next face Hong Kong on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and Kuwait on Friday at 4:45 p.m.
Baldwin said that he is not bothered by the fact that Gilas Pilipinas is the oldest team in the tournament. Gilas members has an average age of 31 with veteran 6’10 center Paul Asi Taulava and gunner Dondon Hontiveros being the oldest at 42 and 38 respectively.
The other teams in the tournament have players with an average age of 23 to 30 years old.
“Again, I don’t look at it that way. My job is to guide the team how to win games,” he said. “I believe we are capable of winning.”
Before competing in the 28th FIBA Asia Championship, the national team had already competed in Estonia in August and in Jones Cup in Taiwan where they won a silver medal.
They also ruled the recent MVP Cup at the Araneta Coliseum defeating Talk ‘N Text, Taiwan and New Zealand’s Wellington’s Saints.