GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said New Zealand will be a totally different team without NBA player Steven Adams in its roster in the coming Manila leg of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament this July.
While France did get a boost with the presence of superstar Tony Parker in the July 5-10 meet, the Kiwis won’t be having Stevens around as the Oklahoma City Thunder center has declined to participate in the tournament.
Baldwin didn’t necessarily say it’s an advantage for Gilas, but implied the Filipinos will have a relatively easier time attacking the basket without Adams, who is currently 29th in the NBA in blocks with an average of 1.2 per game.
“It takes really one of the better rim protectors in the world right now out of their lineup,” Baldwin said. “And they don’t really have a quality replacement for that.”
The 57-year-old Baldwin, who steered New Zealand to a semifinal stint in the 2002 World Basketball Championship in Indianapolis, also said it “changes the nature of their team (New Zealand) quite significantly as they have to rely more on their wings and backcourt led by Corey and Tai Webster as well as stretch 4 Isaac Fotu.
“They will play the style of basketball that they’ve been playing for the last few years,” Baldwin said. “It’s a lot of activity, a lot of movement, a lot of speed, and much more perimeter-oriented.”
“It just changes the way that we have to prepare for them,” he added.