Have you ever wondered how it feels being a foreign coach in the Philippines?
For the ever-straightforward Tab Baldwin, it’s difficult.
“The Philippines is not a place that has been welcoming to foreign coaches.
“The Philippines has traditionally been one of the most difficult places for foreign coaches to be able to enter, to make an impact, and to stay long-term,” he said in the Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Coaches Unfiltered, presented by SMART.
Baldwin first came into the Philippines when he served as Gilas Pilipinas’ consultant for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship in Manila.
Since then, the former New Zealand men’s national team head coach has become deeply involved with Philippine basketball.
Here, he’s been known as someone who is not afraid to speak his mind regarding certain matters concerning the sport he has been teaching for decades.
And Baldwin has ruffled feathers with his straightforwardness. Just recently, the PBA threatened to sanction him for comments he made about the league’s format and officiating.
Still, no matter how tough things may be for him here, Baldwin’s love for the country has not diminished. For the decorated coach who hails from Jacksonville, Florida, the Philippines is what he personally considers as the mecca of basketball.
“I love the Philippines. And I think one of the most endearing aspects of the Philippines as a basketball coach is this is a basketball paradise,” Baldwin said.
“Everywhere you look there are players, there are teams, there are competitions, there are fans, there are facilities, and there are resources.
“From the countries that I’ve been in, much of what I’ve said isn’t there and never is all of it there. Ever. Including the US. So, this, to me, is the mecca of basketball,” he added.
Baldwin is now 62, though retirement hasn’t crossed his mind yet. But should that time come, will he consider staying put here?
“When you put on top of that that this is one of the most hospitable countries on the planet with one of the kindest, gentlest, friendliest populations, I start to ask myself: ‘Where else would I wanna be?’,” he said.
“And there aren’t too many answers to that question. So, long-term, however much long-term means for me these days, absolutely. Retirement? Why not.”
But once he calls it quits, Baldwin would still want to be involved with basketball here in whatever capacity as long as he’s of help.
For the former Gilas drill master, that would be his way of paying back to the country that has helped him so much.
“And if by retiring I can continue to be a part of the basketball community to help coaches, to help young players… Even if they have to push me around in a wheelchair, why not?” he said.
“I love this country; I love the basketball landscape here — even with its flaws. And I hope to be a part of helping better every aspect of it because I know it has done so much to better my life. And I think I can show my appreciation to that in no better way than to submit myself to what is good for the basketball population here and to do what I can to help.”