The fans came in droves to support Gilas Pilipinas during the national team’s game against New Zealand in the 2023 World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the home team hardly putting up a fight against the Tall Blacks, the disappointed crowd at the venue sent a message to the people over at the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Chants of “We want Baldwin! We want Baldwin!” reverberated throughout the Big Dome in protest of the sudden and unexpected parting of ways with former Gilas mentor Tab Baldwin.
The latest and hastily-assembled version of Gilas, which is reinforced by TNT players and handled by the team’s head coach Chot Reyes, won by 24 points over India but absorbed a 25-point beating at the hands of New Zealand two days later.
The Tall Blacks team for the February window was actually far from the being the best squad that the country could put together.
Until now, Gilas supporters are still looking for answers as to why Baldwin was ‘sacked’ and replaced by Reyes who voluntarily stepped down in the aftermath of the July 2, 2018 brawl between Gilas and Australia at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
While the team wasn’t ‘booed’ during the match, the fans just couldn’t hide their disappointment with the inability of Gilas to perform well and compete against a ‘beatable’ Tall Blacks squad which is, again, missing some of its best players.
Gilas, SBP and Chot Reyes didn’t get any respite after the game as irate fans turned to social media to express their sentiments on the lopsided defeat.
Gilas ended the window with 1-1 win loss record which good for 2nd place in Group A. New Zealand finished on top with 3-0 while India remained winless at 0-3 going into the third window which is scheduled this coming June.