FACING a powerhouse team it defeated in the last FIBA Asia Championship will certainly be good for Smart Gilas Pilipinas.
That’s how National team coach Tab Baldwin looks at it as he prepares his squad for tune-up games next week that will feature a series of meetings with perennial Asian powerhouse Iran, which Gilas defeated in the elimination round of the Fiba Asia Championship last year.
The Nationals will take on Iran twice next week, the first one being a closed-door showdown while the other one will be opened to the public on June 8. Both games will take place here in Manila.
As it is now in the critical stage of its preparations for next month’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Gilas Pilipinas will start having these tune-up games in hopes of reaching peak form by July.
Baldwin is positive that the experiences that Smart Gilas will gain from its training and tune-up games will all be vital come the OQT next month.
These upcoming tune-up games will serve as a measure for Baldwin to see where exactly does Gilas stand now in terms of its level of play and readiness.
“We’ll learn more about ourselves and be able to more or less see how we are when we face other teams than just ourselves in practice,” said Baldwin.
He added that these series of games will be a chance for him to see how his wards will respond to the challenge that will be presented in front of them.
“It’s about how we’ll look against different defenses, different offenses and different styles of play. I’d like to see that,” added the American-Kiwi mentor.
Following these tune-up games, Gilas will then fly to Greece to resume its training camp there as it will continue polishing its chemistry and play more exhibition outings.
Lastly, Baldwin also wants to pinpoint what he and the team needs to work on more for the rest of their training leading up to the Manila-hosted tournament that starts on July 5.
“We want to find where our weaknesses are and work on them in our camp. Through these games, we’ll have some quality data to work on rather than just going through things by our selves.”
Like Gilas, Iran is also preparing for its own participation in the Turin, Italy leg of the OQT.
The three winners of the three legs of the qualifying tournaments will proceed to the Rio Olympics this August.