TAB Baldwin wished Gilas Pilipinas well in the upcoming Fiba Asia Cup but bared that the national team will face far tougher challenges than the one he faced when he coached the Philippine squad in the same tournament two years ago.
Baldwin, who coached Gilas to a runner-up finish in China in the 2015 Fiba Asia Cup, noted that the absence of naturalized center Andray Blatche and the injured June Mar Fajardo are already tough to overcome. But there are other huge obstacles facing the Philippine team in its campaign in Lebanon that begins on Wednesday against China.
Playing in Lebanon, a place Baldwin knows well from a previous coaching stint, could already be a difficult mental challenge for Gilas in itself.
"It's tough conditions to play in Beirut," said Baldwin in an interview with reporters after his Ateneo team narrowly lost to the Southeast Asian Games-bound Gilas squad on Tuesday. "Usually, traffic and everything, we think we understand traffic here but it's a different kind over there. It can be really frustrating."
"Lebanon is a different place. I lived there for a while and coached there. It's not an easy place to play and we are a long way home," he added.
The addition of Oceania region powerhouses in Australia and New Zealand to the Fiba Asia Cup cast could also complicate things for Gilas. But still, Baldwin remained hopeful that Gilas will come up with a positive outcome from the tournament.
"I'm just like everybody else," said Baldwin. "I'm hopeful that they are going to do really well over there. I don't really know what the competition is exactly. There's going to be some tough teams there."
"But like everybody else, I hope we do well," he added.