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2023 FIBA World Cup

No hard feelings between Vucinic, SBP

Nenad Vucinic almost did not take the Gilas consultancy job back in February after Tab Baldwin was let go by the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas as both program director and head coach of the men’s national basketball team.

In a tell-all interview with Philippine Sports Commission chairman Noli Eala on Radyo5’s Power and Play, the Serbian-Kiwi tactician bared that it was Baldwin who pushed him to remain and help Chot Reyes out.

2021-fiba-asia-cup-qualifiers-gilas-def-indonesia-Tab-Baldwin No hard feelings between Vucinic, SBP 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

Photo from FIBA Asia Cup

“I had been a head coach for 32 years. The reason I accepted this offer from my very good friend and mentor Tab Baldwin was that I felt we had worked together and done some great things, I was happy with the consulting role and working with the national team for the World Cup. Things happened and he was not program director anymore,” he recalled.

“I said to everybody that it’s fine, those things happen. I will leave as well because I’m his guy and he brought me over. It was his insistence that I stay. He wanted me to stay and help the program. I was really reluctant but after talking to talking to Coach Chot and Manager Butch, I decided to have it a go.”

Vucinic went on to stay for the next six months, serving as assistant to Reyes during Window 2 and the FIBA Asia Cup. He was also the head coach of Gilas during the FIBA Asia Cup and a pair of friendlies in Korea.

However, Vucinic only lasted with the program for six months.

The former Tall Blacks admitted that he did not re-sign with the SBP after his contract lapsed last August. But it’s not because he had beef with Reyes.2023-FIBA-World-Cup-Asian-Qualifiers-Chot-Reyes-2 No hard feelings between Vucinic, SBP 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

“The statement from SBP has been very good.

“There is no question about not being happy or not being utilized, those are just rumors. My contract is expiring at the end of August. We had an option for eight months for the next season but it was my decision to look at other possibilities,” he shared.

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Looking back on the past six months, Vucinic admitted that he was surprised with how big basketball was in the Philippines.

Unlike in the countries he previously coached where basketball was lucky to be that nation’s second sport, everything is magnified in Philippine basketball.

“There was a little bit of drama for my liking.

“I understand the pressure of the fans about basketball. But every issue seems to be a big issue but it shouldn’t be like that. There’s a bit of relief. Obviously, now, I have a lot of good memories of the Philippines. I hope to be back in the future for some different role,” he said.

Still, Vucinic is not closing his doors on a possible return to the country.

After all, he will always look back at this time with wonder.

2023-FIBA-World-Cup-Asian-Qualifiers-Gilas-vs-Tall-Blacks-Nenad-Vucinic No hard feelings between Vucinic, SBP 2023 FIBA World Cup Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news


“I was satisfied. Obviously, the preparation was limited and I was thrown into the deep end to face New Zealand’s best team. They gave me a choice and I did. I don’t regret it and I had a great time coaching those young guys against Korea. We had a tough night in Auckland against New Zealand with the lineup that they had and the limited preparation we had. I had a great time in that short period of time,” he said.

“With all the drama going on, I thought it was best for everybody that I just quietly slip out. I already got some other offers on where I can go. It was just best for everybody to let Coach Chot work for the remainder of this World Cup.”

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