Gilas Pilipinas manager Butch Antonio said on Monday that the national team under coach Tab Baldwin has exceeded the people’s expectation on their campaign in the 28th FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China.
Antonio, also the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) deputy director for international affairs, said that Gilas achieved a feat despite finishing one victory short of securing a berth in the Rio Olympics next year.
“Before we started forming this team, there were doubts that we could not reach the knockout stage, but the players gave their very best and we’re very close to reaching the Olympics,” Antonio told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Monday. “The players really wanted to win there.”
Before the FIBA Asia meet, many were doubtful of Gilas’ capability to reach the playoff stage because of the absence of top Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) players among them June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and LA Tenorio of Ginebra who begged off because of health reasons.
The third edition of Gilas Pilipinas was composed of Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, Matt Roser Ganuelas, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Dondon Honti¬veros, Sonny Thoss, Gabe Nor¬wood, naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche, JC Intal, Jean Marc Pingris and Paul Asi Taulava.
“We exceeded the people’s expectation and we’re still happy with the result although we came out short with just one win,” he added. “All the players will report now in their respective teams to prepare for the upcoming 41st season of Philippine Basketball Association.”
Antonio said also that SBP is still undecided if the country would participate in the World Olympic qualifier.
“We have no plans yet for the meantime,” he said.
Baldwin, on the other hand, will take a one-week vacation before reporting to the Talk ‘N Text camp, where he also serves as team consultant.
“We did a pretty good job overall, we came out close and we came out short of achieving our mission. We feel disappointed,” said Baldwin. “I’m thankful to all Filipinos for their all-out support during the tournament.”
Gilas Pilipinas arrived in Manila on Monday morning from China.
Gilas reached the finals after winning all of their games in the preliminary round, second round and knockout stage. Their lone loss was to Palestine in their opening game. Gilas lost to host China 67-78 on Saturday in the championship round.