The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas continued to withhold its shortlist of candidates for the next coach of Gilas Pilipinas, but with the criteria set by the search and select committee of the country’s governing basketball body, it looks like two names are suited to become the next head coach of the national team.
Let’s review the criteria set by the search and select committee of the SBP.
A) Must-Have Criteria
1. Must have international experience and exposure
2. Must possess leadership with maturity
3. Must be a “winner” with impressive coaching track record
4. Must have full-time availability
B) Preference Criteria
1. Should be familiar with the Gilas program
2. Able to interact with the public – media, the basketball community (local and international), basketball fans, and general public
Given these, it appears the strong candidates are Jong Uichico, head coach of Talk N Text and Tab Baldwin, who served as coaching consultant of previous national team head coach Chot Reyes for the past two years.
Uichico was the national team head coach in the 2002 Busan Asian Games. He has also served in another capacity as the assistant coach of Norman Black in the 1994 Hiroshima Asiad, and as deputy of Reyes in the 2007 Tokushima FIBA Asia Championship, the FIBA Asia Championship in Manila last year, all the way to qualifying for the World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Korea this year.
As head coach of the Gilas cadet team in the Southeast Asian Games last year, Uichico led the country to yet another golden finish.
If there’s one coach who has knowledge on the Gilas program, it’s Uichico.
However, if Uichico, a protégé of PBA Hall of Fame coach Ron Jacobs, is selected as head coach, he will have to give up his head coaching job with the Talk N Text Tropang Texters in the PBA as part of the requirement handed out by the SBP which is the full-time commitment of the next Gilas coach.
Baldwin, on the other hand, is another veteran coach who is hard to pass up.
Currently serving as a consultant of Talk N Text, Baldwin also had similar responsibility with the Gilas Pilipinas national team the past two years.
It could be argued that he had a more comprehensive role in the Gilas program as he has vast knowledge in Arab basketball, having handled the national teams of Jordan and Lebanon.
Baldwin was a former head coach of the New Zealand Tall Blacks, carrying the team to a fourth place finish in the 2002 World Championship. He also coached Lebanon where he led the team to a championship in the Stankovic Cup in 2010, then went on to coach the Jordan national team the following year.
As far as international experience is concerned, there’s no one who is more veteran than Baldwin among the coaches who has present involvement with either the Gilas national team or a team owned by Manuel V. Pangilinan, who bankrolls the program.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios told media that there were six candidates included in the shortlist but would name only two who will be interviewed by the search and select committee next week.