Aside from the usual motivation against rivals Korea, Gilas Pilipinas will now have new bulletin board material to use, and this time, it's personal.
Head coach Tab Baldwin fired back at Korean counterpart Cho Sang-hyun for saying the Filipinos only defeated them was because of a "lucky shot."
"We've already read that the Korean coach felt that we were lucky to win the game. And frankly, I think that's pretty rich for a coach to walk off of a game in which you lose the game and to claim that it was good luck on the part of your opponent," responded Baldwin after a 76-51 beatdown of Indonesia on Friday night.
Gilas remained undefeated against the Koreans on home soil after climbing from a 17-point deficit in the first half. The comeback win was capped off by a one-legged three-pointer by SJ Belangel just before time expired, 81-78 on Wednesday.
"We actually planned a switch in the last two seconds so that there is no space to take a shot. It was a lucky shot. There was nothing we could do to fix it. Maybe, on second thought, we [should] have done a trap. But overall, it was a lucky shot. There was no way of defending it," relayed Cho through an interpreter.
The top two teams of Group A will square off again on Sunday to close their respective stints in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers (3:00 p.m. on TV5 and One Sports)
"We will make sure that [the comments are] highlighted and I'm sure that that will give our players a little bit of incentive and I don't expect that we will be going out there to make friends on Sunday," assured Baldwin.
Growing pains are expected for a young team whose oldest players are 25 years old, but Baldwin expects his wards to play well as part of their maturity process towards the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
"So it's both a short-term goal of the team, to be able to play as well as we can against Korea, but also, to learn how to do that with a very short turnaround in terms of preparing to play the big games and tournaments," said Baldwin.
"It's an important process for us, it's an important exercise for us to be able to do this and do it well, and but at the same time, we're not going out on the court to lose."