Kiwi-American coach Tab Baldwin bared Saturday, 17 September that he had an epiphany when Jordan Clarkson and Dwight Ramos called on everyone to rally behind Gilas Pilipinas and its embattled head coach Chot Reyes.
“Dwight Ramos and Jordan Clarkson speaking out, I think that was the example that I needed. That their courage gave me the courage to speak,” Baldwin told Power and Play, an online talk show hosted by Philippine Sports Commission chairperson Jose Emmanuel “Noli” Eala.
Baldwin swears criticism is part of the territory of being a coach but what Reyes experienced during Gilas Pilipinas’ FIBA World Cup qualifying match with Saudi Arabia last month was simply below the belt.
In that game, the crowd roundly booed when Reyes was introduced, something Baldwin insists was not appropriate.
“Coach Chot knows as well as I do, that’s part of being a coach. It’s just gone too far. It has gone to the extent that people are not supporting the program and even if they say they are, they’re just against Chot, I don’t think they realized the impact of the team of this level of criticism. It isn’t supporting the team. It is hurting the team.”
Baldwin’s statements came at a time when the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas is pulling all the stops to make the country’s hosting of the 2023 worlds a huge success.
Asked about the possibility of joining hands with Reyes at Gilas, Baldwin maintains that he would welcome such but it would all depend on Reyes.
“There’s no hesitation on my part and Boss MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) knows that. I received a text message and I’m very grateful for it, from (SBP president) Boss Al (Panlilio) Friday night. So obviously, I don’t want to call it a healing process, but obviously, the process of communication is underway.”
Still, Baldwin, whose coaching savvy is the stuff of legend in New Zealand, insists his inclusion on the Gilas undertaking will have to have the go-signal from Reyes.
“I think this should be totally Chot’s decision. Nobody else. If I were in Chot’s shoes, I wouldn’t want anybody telling me who I should have on my staff or who I should assign and Chot has to make that decision,” Baldwin said.
The Gilas think-tank also has Tim Cone and Jong Uichico.
Baldwin was brought in by Reyes while Gilas Pilipinas was preparing for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.
Since then, Baldwin has been involved in the country’s coaching affairs, having called the shots for Gilas from 2015 to 2016 and 2020 to 2021.