CHANGSHA, China - Amid the celebration in and around the Gilas Pilipinas dugout in the aftermath of an 81-70 semifinal victory over Japan on Friday night, Tab Baldwin made one thing very clear.
The job is far from done.
"We didn't come here to be in the finals; we came here to win the gold," the national coach said.
That served to temper the celebration and put the focus back on the task at hand as the Philippines marched to its second successive Fiba Asia Championship final, two years after losing to Iran before its own home fans.
This time, the Filipinos will not only be up against a youthful and talent-laden China side led by former NBA player Yi Jianlian, but they will also have to do it before an expected boisterous crowd at the Changsha Social Work Colleges gymnasium cheering for the home team.
Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche, who plays professional ball in China's league, knows fully well the formidable task facing the Philippines, saying he expects a 'dogfight' against the home team.
"It's going to be a big game. I know its going to be a dogfight," said the former Brooklyn Net, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds against Japan. "The Chinese (are) so good."
Saturday's final will be the first for the two countries since the 1986 final when a Philippine team coached by Ron Jacobs and backstopped by naturalized players beat a Chinese team for the title.
Baldwin, too, has some history against China.
Back in 2011, the American-New Zealander took an unheralded Jordan side all the way to the Fiba Asia final, only to be denied by a Chinese team that got the benefit of a referee's call late in the game.