Decorated tactician Tab Baldwin has taken the reins of coaching for Gilas Pilipinas in the Clark window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) announced the appointment in a statement on Sunday, paving the way for Baldwin's return at the helm of the Philippine men's national basketball team after five years.
"I have accepted the opportunity and the challenge to be Gilas' head coach at this time. I am honored to continue working with this outstanding coaching staff as we strive to take these next steps forward in the direction we envision for 2023," said Baldwin.
"I'm hoping that my international coaching experience and familiarity with our playing systems will be an additional asset to the team in the upcoming challenges the team is facing," he continued.
In the process, the 63-year-old has become the third head coach to lead the Nationals in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
Former TNT Tropang Giga active consultant Mark Dickel took charge in the the first window back in 2020 before SBP Coaching Academy head Jong Uichico carried the coaching cudgels in the Manama window last year.
Baldwin served as the coach of the Nationals back in 2015. He spearheaded the country to silver medal finishes in both the William Jones Cup and the FIBA Asia Championships.
Prior to his recent appointment, the multi-titled Ateneo Blue Eagles mentor has been overseeing the development of the Philippines men's national basketball team as the program director of SBP. For this reason, he is aware of the challenges that lie ahead of the youth-laden squad and how the players are capable of overcoming adversities along the way.
"Bumps along the road are inevitable due to their youth and relative lack of experience, but these could be double-edged swords too," said Baldwin.
"I know that when push comes to shove, these men will not only move forward, but more importantly, they will rise up because of the energy, athleticism, and determination granted to them by their youth," he then continued.
Gilas Pilipinas also have seasoned mentors helping out Baldwin on the sidelines. These include Uichico, Sandy Arespacochaga, Boyet Fernandez, Caloy Garcia, Alton Lister, Sandro Soriano, and trainer Dex Aseron.
The Nationals are all set to compete for flag and country in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, facing off against South Korea on June 16 and 20 and Indonesia on June 18. They will then shift their focus on the Belgrade OQT to take on Serbia on June 30 before locking horns with the Dominican Republic on July 1.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.
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