SBP confidence in Tab Baldwin unshaken despite criticism over Gilas letdown in OQT
Gilas coach Tab Baldwin has come under fire from critics for some of his decisions in the team's campaign in the Manila Olympic qualifiers. Jerome Ascano

THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' trust and confidence in Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin remains unwavering.

Despite the failure of the national team to advance past the preliminaries in the recent Olympic Qualifying Tournament here in Manila, there’s no reason for Gilas to part with Baldwin, said a high-ranking Gilas official.

National team manager Butch Antonio said the SBP remains committed to keep Baldwin as head coach of the men’s national squad until the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup is over.

The contract of the 58-year-old American-New Zealander with Gilas is guaranteed until 2018.

“As far as trust and confidence of SBP management with him, I guess (it’s a matter of) honoring the contract. We have to honor what’s simulated in the contract,” said Antonio.

“It’s a four-year contract (2015-2018), and the program is still running under him.”

Baldwin came under fire following Gilas’ failure to advance to the semifinals of the Olympic qualifier at the Mall of Asia recently, which France won. The Filipinos lost both their games against the French and New Zealand to bow out of contention, extending to 44 long years the men’s basketball team’s failure to make the Olympics.

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Specifically, the Gilas coach was criticized for putting premium on height in selecting the final 12-man Gilas roster for the OQT, in the process leaving behind consensus choice Calvin Abueva and veteran LA Tenorio, only to bench 6-foot-9 forward Japeth Aguilar in the team’s 93-84 loss to Tony Parker and Co.

It also didn’t escape the attention of basketball-loving Filipinos that Baldwin let shooting guard Terrence Romeo veer away from the Gilas system and do his one-on-one forays, the same way that he allowed naturalized big man Andray Blatche to act as point guard in several occasions during a similar setback to the Tall Blacks.

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Antonio also noted the concerns, but stressed that in any tournaments Gilas plays, there’s always lessons to be learned.

“Continue learning. I think Tab is a student of the game, and maybe we’re hoping he’s learned something from this experience with us in the OQT,” said the longtime Gilas manager.

“Kung ano yung mga magandang nagawa niya, kung ano ang mga pagkukulang, not even in the perception of what people think, but siguro him as a coach. I’m sure alam na rin nila kung saan sila nagkulang at kung saan pa dapat meron diin.”

Since the qualifier, Antonio said no assessment has yet to be made about Gilas. But definitely, there will be one as soon as top brass of the SBP led by outgoing president Manny V. Pangilinan, comes back from their business trips abroad.

“We’ll assess everything once they come back. We’ll see how things will pan out,” added Antonio.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos