The Philippine national men’s basketball team may be enjoying homecourt advantage in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin admitted that it might not become a very huge edge especially with the caliber of the teams they will face.
Baldwin, a veteran of many international tournaments, said the experience of most of Gilas Pilipinas’ possible foes is enough for them to overcome the hostile, partisan crowd that is expected to root for the Filipinos.
“It’s homecourt advantage and that’s always a plus,” Baldwin wrote in a text message to InterAksyon.com. “But this will be a tournament with primarily veteran teams that have faced similar conditions, particularly the European and American teams.”
France, for one, is composed of several veteran NBA players who have shown their true mettle in many games, among them include star point guard Tony Parker and fellow San Antonio Spurs stalwart Boris Diaw, Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, Joffrey Lauvergne of the Denver Nuggets and Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic.
Canada is no pushover either, especially if they can have on board former top overall rookie pick and Minnesota Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Olynyk of the Boston Celtics, Cory Joseph of the Toronto Raptors and Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Angola and New Zealand, second-placers in the FIBA Africa and FIBA Oceania, respectively, are also included in the list along with Canada (FIBA Americas) and Tunisia.
Angola will be bannered by Reggie Moore, an American granted Angolan citizenship, and 6-foot-11 Yanick Moriera, who worked out for the Los Angeles Clippers just this season.
The Tall Blacks will be led by NBA player Corey Webster, European League veteran Thomas Abercrombie, and 6-foot-8 center forward Isaac Fotu, the youngest player ever to play for the New Zealand men’s basketball team when he represented his country at the age of 17 in the 2011 Stankovic Cup.
Other teams competing in the Olympic qualifying event to be held in Manila, Italy and Serbia from July 4 to 10 are Czech Republic, Greece, Iran, Japan, Latvia, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Tunisia and Turkey.
The draw for the Olympic qualifying event will be held on Tuesday.