DESPITE some hesitation on the part of Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas officials, national team coach Tab Baldwin is hopeful that the SBP will still decide to send the Gilas Pilipinas team to the 2016 FIBA Qualifying tournament.
After the Philippines solidified its status of one of Asia’s top basketball teams after once again bagging the silver medal in the recent 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, Baldwin is setting his sights on the near future as he looks to continue to sharpen Smart Gilas, saying that participating in the qualifying tournament next year, regardless of the result, is part of the process.
Baldwin admitted that the level of competition in the qualifying tournament will be a notch higher, but said this would benefit the program as they look forward to bigger tournaments in the future.
“Being there in the 2016 tournaments will help prepare for 2017. That’s why I’m hoping that we can participate there next year,’’ said Baldwin. “I don’t think you can get enough of really tough competition. You grow so much through adversity and the Olympic qualifier presents adversity.’’
SBP President Manny Pangilinan and SBP executive Ricky Vargas both said in recent interviews that they are still unsure if the country should participate in the qualifying tournament next year given that it would coincide with the Philippine Basketball Association season. They said it is more reasonable to prepare for the next FIBA Asia Championship in 2017 instead.
“That’s just my hope and prayer that we can join. We’ll all gather to talk about that and the direction moving forward and make the best decisions,’’ Baldwin added.
Among those who will join the qualifying tournament next year are European powerhouses France, Canada and Serbia, among others.
Meanwhile, Baldwin also confirmed that he’ll be in the country for the long haul and he is looking forward to a better future for the Philippine National Team with him at the helm.