CHANGSHA, China – Tab Baldwin, the Gilas Pilipinas coach, isn’t bothered a bit by the homecourt edge China has over the Philippines in their title duel in the Fiba Asia Championship on Saturday night.
To tell the truth, he came here expecting the worst.
“They can have it for all I care,” said the outspoken American-New Zealander about the so-called ‘sixth man’ factor that will be on the hosts' side in the 8:30 p.m. championship match.
“They don’t bother us at all. Noise is noise, but it hasn’t got to do with anything, nothing. We’re not interested enough.”
An overflow crowd was on hand at the Changsha Social Work Colleges gymnasium and watched Yi Jianlian and the rest of the Chinese team demolish and dethrone Iran on Friday night, 70-57, to make it back to the final after missing the semis during the Manila edition of the meet in 2013.
But Baldwin said the cheering was only for a show.
“Let them come play in front of Philippine fans, these are real fans. These are fake fans,” he said. “They don’t know the game of basketball and they just sit up there and cheer when told to cheer.”
According to Baldwin, a noisy, hostile crowd is also the least of the concerns of a group of professional players so used to heckling and adversity in the PBA.