Former New Zealand coach also tapped for SEABA: Baldwin to handle SEAG team
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has tapped American Tab Baldwin as head coach of the Philippine men’s team to the 28th SEA Games in June.

The move is aimed at “synchronizing the country’s international basketball program,” according to the SBP press statement.

Baldwin, who was recently appointed head coach of Gilas Pilipinas, will also handle the team to the SEABA tournament from April 27 to May 4 in Singapore.

That will be Baldwin’s baptism of fire.

The SEABA event, a dry run for Singapore’s hosting of the SEA Games, is also a qualifier to the FIBA Asia Championship in Hunan, China on Sept. 23 to Oct. 3.

The FIBA Asia tournament is a must-win for the Filipinos because only the champion in that event will earn a slot to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Making it to the Olympics has always been the main priority of the SBP headed by Manny V. Pangilinan.

The other day, it was reported that the coaching post for the SEABA and SEAG team was a tossup among Pinoy coaches Junel Baculi, Louie Alas, Nash Racela and Eric Altamirano.

But the SBP chose Baldwin.

The decision should allow the 56-year-old Baldwin, a consultant with the Talk N Text team in the PBA, continuity of his program.

Baldwin will call the shots from the SEABA to the SEA Games, FIBA Asia Championship and hopefully all the way to the 2016 Olympics.

“We expect coach Tab to take off running as men’s national team head coach and that is why it is best he gets his feet wet early,” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios.

“He is tasked at leading our men’s team to qualifying for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics by winning the FIBA Asia Qualifying in Hunan,” added Barrios.

Baldwin took over the Gilas coaching from Chot Reyes, who steered the country back into the World Championship for the first time in 38 years.

Reyes stepped down after the Asian Games in Incheon last year.

To lead the country’s campaign in the SEABA and SEA Games are Marcus Douthit, Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks and Garvo Lanete.

Also on tap for national team is the William Jones Cup Invitational in Taipei in July.

The Philippines finished second behind Iran in the 17th FIBA Asia Championship which the country hosted at the Mall of Asia Arena two years ago, paving the way for the country’s return to the global stage after more than three decades via the 17th FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain last year.

Powered by former NBA Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche, Gilas Pilipinas held its ground against Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico in Seville before capping its historic participation with a victory over FIBA Africa qualifier Senegal in overtime, 81-79, in the second round of the preliminaries for the country’s first victory in the world championship in 40 years. 

The 28th SEA Games, which the Philippine basketball teams dominated save for one or two editions, is set June 5-16 meanwhile and will feature teams from neighboring Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore, among others.

Baldwin, born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1958 before moving to New Zealand 30 years later, has coached the national teams of Malaysia, New Zealand, Lebanon and Jordan, and is expected, upon consultation with Pangilinan and other top SBP officials, to begin forming the latest edition Gilas squad next week, starting with his coaching staff.

Meantime, Patrick Aquino, coach of the UAAP basketball champion National University Lady Bulldogs, will take over the helm from erstwhile national women’s team mentor Haydee Ong, while the SBP hopes to appoint within the next few days the successor to former Gilas Under-16 coach Jamike Jarin, who was named coach of five-peat NCAA champion San Beda Red Lions in lieu of Boyet Fernandez, now the PBA NLEX Road Warriors coach.

The Gilas U16 team under Jarin toppled Iran in the semifinals of the 2013 FIBA Asia tournament in Tehran, Iran before falling to the towering Chinese in the final. The strong runner-up finish qualified the team to see action in the FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai last year, and Jarin’s departure leaves the U16 squad with big shoes to fill.

Cagayan de Oro City and Xavier University are hosting on April 10-21 the SEABA U16 tourney, the qualifier to the FIBA Asia tournament reportedly in Bangalore, India.

AMERICAN TAB BALDWIN ASIA ASIA CHAMPIONSHIP BALDWIN COACH FIBA GILAS PILIPINAS NEW ZEALAND TEAM WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
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