GILAS Pilipinas consultant Tab Baldwin doesn't see any problem with Australia now part of the Fiba Asia Cup tournament and competing for spots to the Fiba World Cup against Asian teams.
Baldwin inssited that Australia is beatable, dispelling the notion that Asian teams face an insurmountable task of overcoming the new force in the Fiba-Asia zone.
Instead of playing in the Oceania zone, Australia as well as New Zealand will now compete for slots in the Fiba World Cup and the Olympics through the Fiba Asia zone.
Australia and New Zealand will take part in the Fiba Asia Cup for the first time this year.
Australia, which competed in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics with a team that featured NBA players Patty Mills and Andrew Bogut, has been bracketed with Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup qualifiers where they will also play against Japan and Chinese Taipei in Group B.
"There is a danger of playing in a tournament like this that you seek to qualify and that's it, and then everything else are moral victories because of the mentality that the gold medal belongs to Australia. And that mentality, once you got exposed to Australia and how strong they are, it's easy to be tempted by that.
"You play in a tournament like that, you have one goal, to win a gold. You pick up a qualification, that's fantastic. But the temptation, because these teams are so strong coming out of Oceania, let's just go for qualification. That mentality will do more to harm your passion. You have to fight for gold," said Baldwin, who is still a consultant for Gilas Pilipinas under returning head coach Chot Reyes.
Baldwin, of course, is speaking from experience.
Baldwin once coached the New Zealand national team that reached the 2002 Fiba World Championship by beating Australia in the Fiba Oceania Championship.
"(Losing to Australia), we lived with that in New Zealand forever. We just took scraps from the table of Australia. The Asian teams will experience this very soon and I want to warn against that.
"Nobody in New Zealand believed that, and they thought it was the unreachable dream. I'm here to say you got to get it. You've got to go for it. But you have to work harder than you ever thought. You'll have to work to achieve it," said Baldwin.
Overall, Baldwin said having Australia and New Zealand bring in a higher level of competition.
"It is great for the zone and it's great for the fans. It will provide basketball competition like you have never seen before," he said. "But don't be lured into second-class thinking because you think you have a second-class team. Don't be lured by that."