Tab Baldwin has achieved much success over the course of his decades-long career as a basketball coach.
Still, there’s one aspiration he was never able to fulfill.
Baldwin confessed in the Tiebreaker Vodcasts’ Coaches Unfiltered pod presented by SMART that coaching in the Euroleague was his dream.
“My grand goal as a basketball coach was always to be a Euroleague coach, and I never reached.
“And I always felt that was the ultimate challenge for a basketball coach,” the former Gilas Pilipinas head coach said.
Some may find it odd, considering the ultimate goal for most bench tacticians is coaching in the NBA, which many regard as the premier pro basketball league in the world.
Coaching on such a stage would admittedly be amazing, Baldwin said. However, he strongly believes that it may not be a place in which he would thrive.
“The NBA of course, is an amazing level to coach. But that’s very much a player-dominated league. And not just in terms of tactical play, but also in terms of the psyche of the team,” he said.
“You’re ridiculously rich when you’re an NBA coach. Yet you’re dealing with players who have three and four times the income level that you have. And you’re supposed to be their superior somehow.
“And I always recognize that I felt that my personal limitations wouldn’t allow me to do well in that environment,” added the Jacksonville, Florida-born mentor. “So, for me, Euroleague was my aspiration.”
He may have never had that opportunity in the EuroLeague, but Baldwin still has himself a career that others could only dream of.
Up to this day, Baldwin remains the most victorious coach in New Zealand’s National Basketball League, having won five championships and four Coach of the Year awards.
He also helped New Zealand’s national team grow into one of the world’s best during his stint there from 2001-06, which included a 2004 Olympics appearance.
After coaching the Tall Blacks, Baldwin handled Lebanon’s national team, which he led to the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup title in 2010. The following year, he led Jordan to a silver medal finish in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship in China, the country’s best finish so far in the continental tilt.
Then in 2013, he served as Gilas’ consultant for the FIBA Asia Championship, where the Filipino cagers bagged the silver and sealed a spot in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Since that gig, Baldwin has become deeply involved in Philippine basketball. In 2015, he was even named as Gilas’ new chief tactician.
In just his first year at the helm, Gilas copped silver medals in the Jones Cup and the FIBA Asia Championship, as well as a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games.
He was soon replaced by Chot Reyes in the post, but he went on to wield his magic in the collegiate ranks as the head coach of the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Under him, Ateneo became one of the most dreaded college teams in the land today, and proof of that is their conquest of the UAAP in the last three seasons.
Baldwin would later find his way back to the Gilas program, though, as he was named as its program director in 2019.
Now, the 62-year-old is at the forefront of the national team’s preparations for the 2023 World Cup, which the Philippines will co-host with Indonesia and Japan.
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