FORMER Jordan national coach Tab Baldwin said he is impressed with the way Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes has handled the pressure and brought the team's spirit back to life following Saturday night’s heartbreaking loss to Chinese Taipei.
Baldwin, who came here to serve as one of Gilas’ consultants for the Fiba-Asia men’s basketball tournament, said Reyes has done a “masterful job” of turning the pressure of meeting the expectations of thousands of basketball-crazy Filipinos into an “opportunity."
“I think Chot has gotten the team really focused on the task at hand. He has been working on their (players) confidence,” Baldwin told Spin.ph.
“I think since the beginning, talking about the occasion of playing in the Philippines and the pressure that goes with that, he’s done a masterful job to relax the guys,” explained the 55-year-old veteran international coach.
Baldwin, who also had an impressive stint as coach of New Zealand's Tall Blacks national team, said Reyes’ excellent work on the psychological end has worked well for Gilas as evidenced by the team’s 90-71 whipping of Japan on Monday and an 80-70 victory over a fighting Qatar side on Tuesday.
The team was given a scare by Hong Kong in its final match in the second round but pulled off a 67-55 win.
The native of Jacksonville, Florida warned Gilas, though, that as it goes deep into the tournament, it can expect only opponents to get tougher.
The next test will be against Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals, a team the Filipinos narrowly defeated, 92-89, late last month in a friendly two days before the tournament.
“Kazakhstan gave us what we could handle in the pre-tournament game. They are a big, heavy-pounding team. They have a unique European style of play which can give us some problems,” noted Baldwin, who steered Jordan to a runner-up finish in the 2011 Fiba-Asia championship in Wuhan, China.
Baldwin though believes, Gilas Pilipinas could offset its size disadvantage via its quickness since the Kazakhs, though taller, do not have the speed.