REGARDLESS of what you think about his decision, you have to hand it to Tab Baldwin after his bold call to leave Calvin Abueva and LA Tenorio out of the Gilas Pilipinas team to the Olympic qualifiers.
This guy has guts.
The decision was as puzzling as it was stunning, leaving Baldwin to face an angry mob that is bound to demand for his head if and when this gamble backfires in the Manila tournament just over a week from now.
That of course could've been easily avoided had Baldwin gone with the most logical and conventional and dropped, say, Troy Rosario and Ryan Reyes. End of discussion. Everybody happy. Everyone's job is safe, including Baldwin's.
But we all know by now that Baldwin is anything but a conventional guy. He isn't out to please people, kiss @$$ (which probably explains why some people in the Gilas circle are not too fond of him), or play it safe.
On the contrary, the American-New Zealander is ready to risk everything, including his own job security (in a Gilas position which he thoroughly enjoys, for that matter), to get the job done in the way he knows how.
I don't know about you, but that's the national coach I want, right there.
Debate over the decision to cut Abueva and Tenorio is expected to rage over the next several days, and may come back to haunt Baldwin should Gilas fare poorly before its home fans at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But you know what?
That bold move also tells me this guy has a firm plan on how to beat France, New Zealand or perhaps Canada and Turkey in the Manila qualifiers, and is determined to see it through regardless of the cost.
The plan, I reckon, is well thought of down to the smallest detail, and Baldwin believes in it enough that he was willing to roll the dice, live and die with the pieces which he felt would make it work.
To cut down giants like France down to size, what we need is a well-laid plan and a coach who is unfraid to lose his job and won't hesitate to swing for the fences.
* * *
Speaking of well thought of, the same cannot be said of that television event announcing the two final cuts in the Gilas team. It could've been better handled, which should read as low key as possible.
Look. The event was not about the 12 men who made the Gilas lineup, but all about the two men who were left off the bus. The awkwardly handled television event made it feel like the two were thrown under the bus.
It didn't matter that Abueva and Tenorio were informed well beforehand, or that they took the news like men. The two may have handled the situation with class, but turning their non-inclusion into a TV spectacle is anything but classy.
It's in poor taste, in fact.
No wonder a grim-faced Baldwin looked as if he would rather be elsewhere than infront of the camera when he grudgingly made an appearance at the start of the mishandled TV event.
Baldwin probably couldn't even bear to stick around when the made-for-TV reality show came down to revealing the final two cuts - decisions which, he admitted beforehand, had caused him sleepless nights.
This pain also reveals something about Baldwin's character.
This man was born in Florida, settled in New Zealand as an honorary citizen, lived in Lebanon and Greece, and now calls the Philippines his second home. But wherever he may be, his heart will always be in the right place.