Rumors have run rampant that the real reason behind Tab Baldwin’s departure from the Gilas Pilipinas yet again is far from what had been declared.
Though the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) had already said in a statement that the multi-titled mentor stepped down to focus on Ateneo in the UAAP, many netizens, quite frankly, are buying none of it.
And word from the grapevine has it that it is because of his involvement in sending national team players abroad to play professionally.
Well, the majority of the players that took their act overseas, particularly to Japan, are members of the youth-laden Gilas pool, led by Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos, and Kobe Paras, to name some.
While they have brought immense pride to a nation, such engagements have affected some of the players’ commitment to the program.
And failing to keep them, gossip said, is why Baldwin got removed, leading to the reappointment of Chot Reyes at the helm.
Some of local basketball’s bigwigs, such as Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Chairman Ricky Vargas, have actually heard all that talk.
“To be honest, I’ve been hearing about that but there is really no proof,” said the former SBP vice chairman in a virtual press conference, Friday.
“There’s a lot of talk going around, and a lot of rumors and a lot of speculation because of his connections with agents,” he added.
Ditto with federation president Al Panlilio, adding that such has actually been mentioned to him. “If I may add to that when there’s smoke, there’s fire,” he said. “People I talk to who aren’t directly involved mentioned it to me.”
Still, the two bosses downplayed all of those rumors, with Vargas simply referring to them as “all smoke” and nothing else.
“There is no real proof,” said the 69-year-old, who’s also the governor of TNT. “It’s just all smoke. I don’t know, but it’s being talked about.”
“I just don’t really mind it,” said Panlilio, on the other hand.
“But it’s there. You hear about it. We actually don’t know, but it’s being talked about.”
Tiebreaker Times was able to collate who the agents of some of the overseas Filipino basketball players are.
The world-renowned Octagon Basketball Agency is the agency of Bobby Ray Parks (Nagoya), Kiefer Ravena (Shiga), and Thirdy Ravena (San-En). Toyama’s Dwight Ramos also signed with the agency recently to represent him overseas.
Prior to signing with Octagon, Ramos’ international representative was Titan Management Group — the only FIBA-licensed sports agency in the country. TMG still represents Ramos locally. Kemark Carino (Aomori) is also part of TMG.
Siegle Sports & Entertainment represents Juan Gomez de Liano (formerly part of Tokyo Z), Kobe Paras (Niigata), and Matthew Aquino (Shinshu). 3&D Basketball is SSE’s partner in Japan.
Javi Gomez de Liano’s local agent is Espiritu Manotoc Basketball Management, which partnered with a Japanese agency to get their client to sign with Ibaraki.
Meanwhile, Jordan Heading of Taichung is with JB Sports Management.
Both Kai Sotto (Adelaide) and Lebron Lopez (OTE) are under East West Private.
If there’s an agency that can be connected to Baldwin, it is Argus Ossa Sports since it is owned by former TNT consultant Mark Dickel. AOS though has yet to get a Filipino player a contract to play overseas.
By: Justine Bacnis and Matthew Li