SINGAPORE – Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said what the cadet team went through in the Southeast Asian Games is similar to what USA Basketball experienced before the 'Dream Team' era.
Baldwin said the SEA Games as well as the Seaba championships have shown that the Philippines' neighbors are fast closing the gap, thanks largely to the Asean Basketball League (ABL) and other leagues across the region.
“This is not an easy tournament,” said Baldwin after the Gilas cadets went through two harrowing games against Thailand and Indonesia in the SEA Games medal playoffs. “If someone thinks that it is easy need to review their thinking for the next Seaba and SEA Games.”
Baldwin cited the dilemma of USA Basketball which for a long time sent amateur squads to major international competitions like the Olympics, only to change gear when it realized other countries were gaining headway.
That was the time when the original Dream Team was formed for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where 11 out of the 12 players were from the NBA.
“You have to remember that USA Basketball went through the same thing when they sent their amateurs to major competitions. All of a sudden, they realize that the world caught up. We are going through the same thing,” said Baldwin.
The Gilas cadets had to sweat it out before retaining the gold medal in the 28th SEA Games. The Philippines had to overcome a 10-point halftime lead against Thailand, 80-75, then went through anxious moments before beating Indonesia for the gold medal, 72-64.
“Our amateurs are very, very good basketball players. But those professionals playing in the ABL and other countries are catching up,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin, however, didn’t categorically say that the Philippines should start sending an all-PBA team to the SEA Games and Seaba, only saying that it is 'worth a discussion.'
“What we are going to do with that, I don’t know. It is certainly worth a discussion but it’s not the main topic of conversation tonight,” said Baldwin.
Watch the video of the post-tournament interview: