Gilas needs to be at its best to beat China, says Baldwin

WITH only a few days left before it plunges into action in the FIBA-Asia Championship, the Gilas Pilipinas national team is cramming to transform itself into one cohesive unit.

Smart Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin continues to emphasize that the nationals need to play cohesive and fluid basketball if they want to achieve their goal in winning the title and represent the country in the Rio Olympics.

“We’re still continuing to work on our fluidity as a team both on and off the court. I’d like our maturity to transform further for us to be able to play to the best of our abilities and avoid silly mistakes,’’ said the Kiwi-American Baldwin. “We’re trying to be as efficient we can be.’’

The nationals placed second in the 37th Jones Cup and topped the MVP Cup last week, but Baldwin said the team still has a lot of improvement to do before they can declare themselves ready for the FIBA, tournament which starts Sept. 23.

“This is a very young and new team, not because of age and experience, but in terms of time and jelling together since we haven’t been playing together for a long time. That’s what we’re continuing to work on, our chemistry and familiarity with the system we’re running,’’ he said.

The Baldwin stressed that Smart Gilas need to be at its absolute best against the opposition, especially against title favorites Iran and China.

“Some of our biggest concerns are the turnovers and the careless mistakes that we tend to make on the defensive side. We cannot commit silly mistakes on both sides of the floor against those other strong teams in the FIBA-Asia. We need to fix those things going to China to have a really good shot. It’s a continuing learning curve for us,’’ Baldwin said.

The nationals are in the middle of  a five-day training camp at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu, where they continue to fine-tune  their system leading into the tournament.

They fly back to Manila tomorrow and rest for the weekend before flying to Changsa, China on Monday.

The Philippines, who is bracketed in Group B, will face Palestine on Sept. 23, meets Hong Kong on the 24th and takes on Kuwait on the 25th in the preliminary round of the FIBA-Asia.

In a report from Sports5,  the only media outlet allowed in Smart Gilas’ closed-door training in Cebu for this week, Baldwin told his players that they are all in it to win and the only goal is to win the FIBA-Asia tilt and earn the lone ticket to the 2016 Rio Olympics and anything other than that will end up in disappointment.

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