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Tough challenges lie ahead for Tab Baldwin

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“If you’re gonna run away from pressure, you’re gonna run away from coaching real challenges. I prefer that I run towards those.”

Those were the words current Men’s National basketball team head coach and newly-instilled Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin said regarding the challenges and criticisms he and the school have been facing with his hiring.

According to the 57-year-old American-Kiwi, he was surprised that he was even part of the school’s short-list to be the 37th men’s basketball head coach of the soon-to-be 156 year old institution. “I thought that I was going to be involved with the professional ranks and the Gilas [program],” he told reporters during the Gilas practice last December 7. “But I think I shouldn’t have been surprised based on my involvement with the SEABA team and the Cadet team. The strong bond we built with that team and winning the gold.,I think that made an impression with the “powers-that-be” that I could work pretty well with that age group.”

Returning to the collegiate ranks once more, Baldwin takes to heart the responsibility of being a teacher to the student-athletes. “It’s exciting to work with young players because it means that you’re not just a coach but you’re also a teacher,” he enthusiastically said. “The opportunity to have an impact in the lives of young men and to reinforce the values of a university like the Ateneo is a real privilege for me.”Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Tough challenges lie ahead for Tab Baldwin

Getting to coach for the Katipunan-based squad is a huge honor according to him. “It’s a privilege and it’s an opportunity. I’m excited to be part of the UAAP. As I’ve seen, it’s a wonderful competition. Ateneo has a fantastic history. They have a great fanbase as well,” he shared.

However, a lot of challenges and problems have and will come up just a few hours after the school’s official announcement. From the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines trying to block the move to the young roster of the team, Baldwin addressed all those.

With a Court of Appeals ruling six years ago that forbids foreign coaches to coach local basketball clubs, the hiring of Baldwin is coming under the fire by the BCAP. Coach Baldwin, though, understands where the rule is coming from and believes that he is not hindering the growth of the local coaches. “One of the important things for my boss MVP and the SBP was that I make contributions for the basketball community and I help the local coaches.” he disclosed.

“It’s important to me that I don’t try to undermine the local coaching fraternity but I try to help it out and augment it with the experiences I have. So, in the basis of that, while I’m sympathetic to what they are saying, I think that the spirit of what I’m trying to do counteracts with that. Hopefully, we all agree to that and there won’t be any issues.”

Moreover, some critics are also not in favor of the Men’s National basketball team head coach coaching a local team as the coach’s focus will have to be split. Baldwin assured that the Gilas program will be his top priority in stressing, “Flag and country first. There will be times where there will be conflicts but the priority will be the Gilas team.”

“But I believe there won’t be a problem balancing both. The amount of time that I need to give to both, with the help of the assistant coaches and the support organizations of both, we can build strong teams on both sides of the ledger. Hopefully, we minimize the impact of any potential conflicts that will arise.”

With a new and tough challenge ahead, Baldwin plans to take those head-on. “It’s exciting to be a part of that and I understand that there will be pressures. If you’re gonna run away from pressure, you’re gonna run away from coaching real challenges. I prefer that I run towards those. We hope that we put together a successful team and a successful campaign,” he closed.

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