In two years with the Gilas Pilipinas national team program, Tab Baldwin has seen how passionate Filipinos are when it comes to basketball.
Now the head coach of our national team, the American mentor believes his job has become more important, especially because Pinoys share the same passion he does.
“It’s an important job because there’s a country who’s passionate about the sport. I’m very passionate about the sport. I am surely a competitive person and I hope it will reflect on the team that I coach,” Baldwin told Tiebreaker Times.
Baldwin is taking over a Gilas basketball program that was carried to greater heights by coach Chot Reyes, who steered the Philippines back to the World Cup for the first time since 1974.
The Philippines last qualified 40 years ago in Puerto Rico following its gold medal finish in the Asian Basketball Confederation (now known as the FIBA Asia Championship) a year before. In 1978, the Philippines was given an automatic seat as privilege to the host country of the biggest basketball event in the world, but that team failed to win a single game in seven matches.
Baldwin sees an improved Philippine quintet playing in the bigger stage and that’s because of Reyes, according to Baldwin, who served as consultant to the fiery Filipino mentor.
“I will be forever grateful to him. He’s been responsible for bringing me here. He’s a good friend. But he’s a better friend for Gilas Pilipinas and a better friend for Philippine basketball. It’s a tremendous privilege, a great honor to succeed Coach Chot and assume his position as coach of Gilas Pilipinas,” said Baldwin.
But aside from taking over as head coach, Baldwin is excited by the fact that he’ll take over a solid basketball program built with a strong foundation.
“I’m very excited because this team, this program is in good shape. Let’s all hope that this program improves and take this country to higher rankings and greater honors in world basketball stage,” he added.