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Baldwin: "It's time to start winning on bigger stage"
MANILA (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament) - It's not enough to keep showing up at the party.
For Philippines coach Tab Baldwin, it's time for the national team to start winning the big games.
That is his mindset looking ahead to next year's FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs).
The Filipinos will have a team in one of the three, six-team events by virtue of their top-four finish at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship staged earlier this month in China.
The Philippines hosted the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and came in second to Iran while the following year at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, they played in exciting games but won just once, beating Senegal 81-79.
Those Gilas teams were coached by Chot Reyes while Baldwin held the reins to this year's team that came in second place to China in Changsha-Hunan.
"Yes, we're competitive in Spain and that's a testament to what we can achieve, what we can aspire to," Baldwin said to the Philippines media.
"But we can no longer go to where we want to be by just being competitive.
"We've got to win."
It should help the Philippines in tournament play with the recent decision by the PBA to have a 17-man player pool available for national team training on Mondays, beginning in November.
"It's a great sign for Philippine basketball and the fans," Baldwin said.
"It looks like we'll be able to tap into the quality of talent we have in the country.
"It seems everybody in the sport is going to support the national team and the national program.
"We do appreciate the support and we want to honor that by working hard and doing the best that we can."
Even with a lot of preparation and a full commitment to the cause, winning an OQT is going to be extremely difficult for any national team around the world.
Baldwin knows that well as he coached Jordan at the 2012 OQT in Caracas, Venezuela, which was played in a 12-team format.
Both Greece and Puerto Rico blew out the Jordanians.
"It's the toughest tournament that can ever be assembled because it has so few teams, so few games," he said.
"And the opportunities to progress... you have to be at your best right from the start."
That was something that the Philippines were not on 23 September when tournament first-timers Palestine stunned them in their FIBA Asia Championship opener, 75-73.
"If we do another Palestine, we'll be out," Baldwin warned.
"We have to avoid that, we have to be at our best from the start."