Tab Baldwin 'surprised' at Gilas' twin wins over Korea
Tab Baldwin

Tab Baldwin 'surprised' at Gilas' twin wins over Korea

Luisa Morales (Philstar.com) - June 23, 2021 - 10:02am

MANILA, Philippines — The all-cadet Gilas Pilipinas is coming off of a highly successful stint in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers held in Pampanga.

The Nationals came away with three wins in just as many tries in the pocket tournament — which included two victories over rivals South Korea, ending an eight-year drought.

The success of the young Gilas squad came as a delightful surprise to most, including Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin, who recently spoke about his exceeded expectations in the bubble.

"I try not to have too much expectations of any teams because each game has its own character, but in the bigger picture I didn't really fathom that we would win three games," Baldwin said during an episode of The Game.

"I felt that we would be extremely fortunate to beat Korea one time. I just hoped that we would compete and get great learning experiences, which we did... But to eke out two wins [against Korea] was really special for the team, special for the country," he added.

Many Filipino fans echoed Baldwin's sentiments, with the first win against the Koreans stunning almmost everyone who was watching -- not only did Gilas break an 8-year-old "curse", they did it with such a young team.

Knowing he had to temper his expectations in that second game against Korea on Sunday, Baldwin was once again in awe that his squad ended up with the victory.

The tactician wasn't taking away anything from his wards, but knowing just how good the Koreans are, it was silly to enter the game feeling confident that they would come away with the win.

"Speaking in terms of surprises, I guess [what surprised me the most] was the fact that we did end up winning," quipped Baldwin.

"I expected them to play hard, [which] they did, they played exceptionally hard. I expected to lack cohesion and chemistry and we did. I didn't think we looked terribly cohesive out there... So it wasn't pretty, but you know I think in that sense, it kind of met my expectations. But I didn't really believe that we would compete as well as we did with Korea and I thought Korea was very good," he added.

Now, with the Asia Cup qualifiers in their rear view mirror, Baldwin can only hope for more surprises when his young wards go up against international powerhouses in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament set in Belgrade next week.

Gilas will test their mettle against hosts Serbia and the Dominican Republic in hopes of punching a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics in July.

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