CHANGSHA, China – Tab Baldwin thought Gilas Pilipinas played with too much emotion against Lebanon and nearly paid for it.
The ploy by the nationals to get the job done right away almost backfired on Thursday night during an 82-70 victory over the Lebanese in their Fiba-Asia quarterfinal match-up.
While the win secured for Gilas a seat in the semifinals opposite Japan – while at the same time earning a berth in the World Olympic Qualifier next year – Baldwin was not totally happy with the way his team performed.
Although admitting the Filipinos’ did play with passion, Baldwin noted how obvious the team didn’t have complete focus onthe game, no thanks to the pre-game remarks made by Lebanon coach Vesilin Matic that his team is 100 percent the underdog and that with no Iran in the Lebanese’ path, everything else would be ‘easy’ against the Philippines.
“Perhaps it was the emotion, comments were made and the players did take that to heart,” said Baldwin shortly after the match.
The 57-year-old American-New Zealander was quick to turn Matic's statement into a motivation for his team, which he said "has been unfairly criticized before they ever played the game and doubted."
“That’s why I chose to highlight that and that’s why I think they took it a little bit personally. And I’m not sure if I’ll do that again because they were jumping out of their skin and we lost some of our cohesion and rhythm in that game,” said Baldwin. “I don’t know if that’s the reason. I have to give Lebanon some credit as well but it felt like that was the reason.
“So that’s the way we chose to take it and we felt like we earned our respect on the floor,” said Baldwin. “I just wished we had done it in a little bit more stylistic fashion in terms of good basketball.”
Despite playing what he termed as ‘desperate basketball, in the eyes of Baldwin the Lebanese had a very good performance against the Filipinos.
Which the Gilas mentor unfortunately, couldn’t say the same against his team .
“I was not happy with our performance. There was a lot of effort that went in, but it’s like somebody who goes out to the dance floor and just shake themselves around,” said Baldwin. “They did a lot of moving, but you know it’s not really a dance. And that’s the way it felt for me today.”