Gilas to focus on 'areas of improvement' ahead of Olympic qualifiers
Gilas Pilipinas will have little time to celebrate after their 6-0 sweep of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers with the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia drawing near.

Gilas to focus on 'areas of improvement' ahead of Olympic qualifiers

Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) - June 20, 2021 - 8:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas is fresh from a 6-0 sweep of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, punctuated by an 82-77 win over South Korea on Sunday at the AUF Gym in Pampanga.

But there seems to be no rest for the weary as head coach Tab Baldwin revealed that the coaching staff and players are already in preparation for the upcoming Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia from June 29 to July 4.

Rather than relishing in the feat achieved by his young wards, Baldwin wants to keep on working toward getting the squad to a higher level — one that they will need if they want to compete well in the OQT.

"I think that these players have their own confidence, the confidence of youth, the confidence of hard work [and] the confidence that comes with having some success. But the coaching staff takes a much more critical view of things and we're focused very much on areas of improvement that are evident to us," Baldwin said after their game on Sunday.

"This is a great group of guys to work with so we want them to be confident for sure... But we also want to temper that with the fact that this is a long term job and in order to do this job well, at the level we hope to get to, we always have to stay focused on improvement," he added.

The all-cadet Gilas squad, bannered by Dwight Ramos, naturalized Filipino Ange Kouame and Kai Sotto, once again proved their mettle, surpassing their impressive run in Bahrain last November with a 3-0 record in Pampanga — which included two wins over the Koreans who have long plagued the Nationals.

So it was a no-brainer for Baldwin and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to come to the decision that this group currently in the bubble — with absent stars who are out due to injury — will be the source of the 12-man lineup bound for Belgrade.

"The players that we have here in this bubble are the players that will go to Serbia," Baldwin said.

"We'll have to leave one or two behind but the 12 that we select to play [in the OQT] will be taken from this group here," he added

It was reported that Gilas will be playing a tune-up game Tuesday against Asian powerhouse China in preparation for the OQT.

For Baldwin, the young Gilas wards will take all the action they can get to make themselves battle ready come June 29.

"Every game that we can get for these young men is extremely important and it will help us prepare," said Baldwin.

Gilas will undergo an acid test in the Olympic qualifiers with a schedule packed with games against hosts Serbia and the Dominican Republic. 

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