Champion Euro coaches due

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

Ateneo de Manila seniors basketball coach Tab Baldwin has seen how the basketball landscape has changed over the past two decades, and says the Philippines has not caught on. To help remedy this, he is bringing in champion European coaches for a three-day clinic in the middle of June. The clinic will be mainly for Filipino coaches, but it will be open to coaches from all over Asia, and will be very reasonably priced.

“The purpose of the clinic is to create something positive for the coaching community,” explains Baldwin, who had his start in international coaching in New Zealand over two decades ago. “We’ve had some good clinics here. But I wanted to do something that was different, which was to emphasize the impact of European basketball on the basketball landscape. To me, it’s significant, the casual observer doesn’t see what’s going on in the sport of basketball. And it’s over a decade old. It’s getting up on 20 years now.”

Baldwin says that as the US declined in international basketball beginning with the second Dream Team, people were looking in the wrong direction. It wasn’t because the Americans were getting less competitive; it was because other countries – particularly in Europe – were attacking the game in a different way.

“Everybody was looking at the US. But they ignored the other side of the coin. They ignored the advancements in international basketball. They ignored the most prevalent trends at the time,” says Baldwin, who coached Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the Philippines last year. “The US was – in a sense – selling its soul to the athlete, and the game reflected that. If you go back to the Allen Iverson emergence of the scoring point guard, the off-the-dribble scoring and movement dying, even the post man becoming a dinosaur in the game. All of that evolution that’s continued to take place, was US driven.

“While that was going on, Europe was figuring out how to play the game with substandard athletes. Yes, they had size, but size wasn’t enough. With size didn’t come speed for them. They did a phenomenal job, in fact, they did a much better job than anybody else in the world, other than probably the Argentinians, the Brazilians and the Australians. They figured out there was a way to play this game with size and skill, that was gonna create problems for speed and quickness. And it had to do with court spacing, tactics, getting big men who could shoot the ball. These were all elements of the development of the European game that the US didn’t follow. And it wasn’t until the last five or so years they’re starting to see the American big men start to play like the European big men.”

After the likes of German all-around player Detlef Schrempf started performing well in the NBA, US colleges and NBA teams started importing more and more European players. But they weren’t asking how and why those players became so efficient and successful in the first place.

“The casual observer doesn’t stop to think why,” he clarifies. “The real answer to why is that the brain trust of the sport of basketball left the United States maybe 20 years ago, and it moved to Europe, particularly to Lithuania and Serbia. And they influenced dramatically Spanish basketball, Italian basketball and French basketball. And now you have those five countries. If you go back further, it was Greece that was the dominant European country. Greece had great athletes and extremely tough players, hard-nosed guys. But the intellect was Serbia and Lithuania, and now it’s spread throughout Europe.”

Meanwhile, Filipinos were and still are enamored with the American style of play, which has been having a harder and harder time winning at most levels of international competition. Though there are some similarities in terms of skill and style, these will not get the Philippines as far unless the mindset is changed.

“There are some synergies on a smaller scale, the fact that we are more skilled and have more speed here in the Philippines,” Baldwin continues. “But you’re never gonna beat teams you play the same as, with inferior talent. Unless you have superior intellect. If you want to play at that level, you’ve got to understand various tactics and mentalities in the game. So our clinic one, trying to expose our coaches first of all to the reality that exists; second of all, to the nuts and bolts of what European coaches actually teach. The other thing that we want to do with our clinic is we want to try and emphasize to our developmental coaches the importance of what should be developed in a player. It shouldn’t be by default. There should be a specific formula of what you should develop. And what we want to emphasize is developing the complete player, because that’s what today’s game demands.”

Interested parties may contact John Flores through 0998-9977275 or Jay Salvador through 0928-1716108.

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