Where Baldwin is right: Gilas should compete from a point of difference

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Tab Baldwin recently made comments that put him in hot water. He was, in fact fined and suspended by the PBA and was fired from his assistant coach and consultant duties with the Talk ‘N Text franchise.

Most of the Philippine basketball stakeholders were offended and openly showed their disgust. Some Fans and the viewing public like Senator Richard Gordon some Ateneans, however, got his back.

In all fairness, Baldwin have some valid points that need to be highlighted if the Philippines quest is to win some international medals and Filipinos reach some of the pinnacles of basketball like the NBA.

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It was the manner and timing he spoke about them that rightfully requires the recipient of the criticism to ask the question “What is he up to?” simultaneous with “What’s he talking about?”.

The dilemma when an incident of this nature happens is things become emotional and the persons who the criticism if directed to takes defensive stance while offering counter punches.

The original issue is often buried and the attention is diverted from them. In the following series Where Baldwin is right, where Baldwin is wrong, I present the insights he pointed out which Philippine basketball world might want check out and those which I think has already been proven to be unworkable under Philippine conditions.

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Here’s the first issue:

The Philippines must compete on a ‘point of difference”

This is where I think Baldwin is on point. He was very clear on this philosophy and talks lots of sense.

To be competitive against nations far superior in both size and skills, a longshot like Gilas Pilipinas must learn to compete from a “point of difference” he says. He agrees it’s having a chance, not automatically winning.

Baldwin proved this philosophy to work well in the Philippine setting. Remember him steering an Ateneo collegiate team to a 4th place finish against some of other countries national teams in the 2018 Jones Cup, beating Chinese Taipei and Japan national teams.

It’s true. Gilas might want to think of putting up a system that dictates the pace and not just to play the game styles of other superior nations.

It’s time to accept Filipinos’ weakness in playing this game: height, and think how to compensate for that.

Baldwin aside, the Philippines are full of coaches who already did this at some level.

Did Tim Cone became a 22-time PBA champion by accident or luck? No sir, his triangle offense philosophy has been and still is working to this day and only a few were able to create counter-measures against it.

It amazes how Yeng Guiao keeps on coming up with wins despite using different starters regularly. It happens throughout his coaching career. He loses some of his key players yet his team continues to thrive.

Just lately, his best player, Poy Erram, has been traded, yet NLEX is still viewed by many as a team to reckon with.

It’s systematic. Like Baldwin said, it’s insanity if one keeps repeating his mistakes and refuse to change tactics.

Insanity, he says, is trying to do what your more talented and experienced opponents do, and expect to be able to compete with them or beat them.

A PBA coach might want to make Tim Cone think of how he can solve their game plan instead of simply matching up players to Cone’s lineup while playing his kind of game.

Gilas, in the same mentality,  might want to force other national teams to think of ways how they could match up well with Philippines rather than simply allowing them to impose their size and talents on the smaller Pinoys.

By: Armando M. Bolislis
photo from fiba.basketball

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