Many of Tab Baldwin’s former players from both Ateneo de Manila University and Gilas Pilipinas Men are now serving as imports in various parts of the world — particularly in Japan’s B.League.
Just last season, there were nine Filipinos tapped to play in the B.League, namely Thirdy Ravena (San-En), Kiefer Ravena (Shiga), Dwight Ramos (Toyama), Bobby Ray Parks (Nagoya), Kobe Paras (Niigata), Javi Gomez de Liano (Ibaraki), Matthew Aquino (Shinshu), Juan Gomez de Liano (Tokyo Z), and Kemark Carino (Aomori).
Of course, Baldwin is happy to see his former players Thirdy, Ramos, Paras, the Gomez de Liano brothers, and Carino experience playing overseas.
“I’m really excited for them,” said Baldwin.
But the honeymoon stage should be over, according to Baldwin. They should now bring in the results.
Out of all the nine Filipinos that played in Japan’s premier league last season, only Parks was able to make the playoffs.
In Division I, Ibaraki, Shiga, San-En, and Niigata were four of the bottom five teams in the league. Toyama and Shinshi also missed the playoffs.
Over in Division II, Tokyo Z and Aomori were the bottom two squads.
Entering the new season, Paras (Altiri Chiba), Jordan Heading (Nagasaki), and Greg Slaughter (Fukuoka) are going to play in B2.
Thirdy, Kiefer, Parks, and Aquino were renewed by their respective teams while Ramos has moved to Hokkaido. Meanwhile, Justine Baltazar also signed with Hiroshima.
A couple of PBA players are also expected to go to Japan next month, bumping the list to 11 Filipino imports in the Land of the Rising Sun.
For Baldwin, the upcoming season should be a challenge to those players that they are not just there to take part. They are in Japan to take over.
“I think that they need to help their teams win more. I saw too many of their teams down near the bottoms of the rankings, and I don’t think that should sit well with them,” said Baldwin, whose Ateneo team was in Tokyo for the World University Basketball Series. “I think they should be outspoken, I think they should be leaders. If they want to be great, being great is helping your team win. While they’re enjoying the experience of playing in the B.League and staying in Japan, they don’t come here to participate.
“They come over here to make their teams better and win games. I think they need to do a better job of that. I think they need to take more responsibility and not just say I’m a rookie or I’m an import. That’s their team now. They need to bleed with their teammates, it doesn’t matter if their teammates are from Timbuktu or Tokyo. That’s their teammates,” the former Gilas and Tall Blacks head coach explained.
“They need to bleed with them to win games. I want to see them producing more wins for their team.”