MANILA, Philippines -- Jordan Heading was among the bright spots for Gilas Pilipinas in their winless campaign in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT), as he led the team in scoring while showcasing his touch from beyond the arc.
The Fil-Australian Heading averaged 14.5 points in two games, and made eight of the 11 three-pointers that he attempted against Serbia and the Dominican Republic.
The Philippines lost both of their games, but Heading's performances impressed Filipino fans and pundits especially as it was his first time in a decade that he played for flag and country. Heading previously represented the Philippines in the youth level.
One person who was unsurprised at Heading's good showing? Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin.
"I mean, I expect all the players to play well, and Jordan played very well," Baldwin said on "Power and Play" on Saturday.
Baldwin, also the program director of the national team, noted that Heading -- like every player on the team -- makes mistakes that may not be immediately obvious. However, it was also clear that the 25-year-old passed the so-called "eye test."
"The fact that we started him shows that we have a lot of confidence in him, and he played the minutes, and he gave us really good returns on his effort," the coach said.
"It's not a surprise. He can really shoot the ball, he's a pretty clever guy, he understands our systems pretty well. He's a tough cookie, he's not afraid to go into the paint against bigger players and you know, and finish at the rim," he added.
But Baldwin also noted that Heading has "a lot of improving to do" and he expects the player to do as much as Gilas begins preparing for the FIBA Asia Cup.
"He had a good run," Baldwin said of Heading. "We don't see any reason why that should stop."
Ahead of the OQT, Heading also suited up for the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers where he averaged 6.5 points and 1.5 assists over two games against Indonesia and South Korea.