HE once chose Chot Reyes to coach the national team in 2005, but Noli Eala is not ashamed to admit if there’s someone better suited to handle arguably the highest-profile coaching job in the Philippines.
During his SPIN Zoom In guesting, the former PBA commissioner and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director answered a question by a fan, who asked if he is in favor of Tab Baldwin to be reinstated as Gilas Pilipinas coach ahead of the 2023 Fiba World Cup co-hosted by the country.
Eala on Tab Baldwin
“Absolutely. No doubt, because of his record,” Eala said. “No knock on coach Chot. I love coach Chot. He’s one of the best na nakita natin sa ating bansa. But I think coach Tab’s system already worked. Hindi ko sinasabing Chot’s will not. All I’m saying is we’ve seen how it was sa qualifiers.”
“Nakita natin sa Olympic qualifiers, how we played Serbia – with a young crew ha. And yung kanyang vision,” he added.
Shock was the general sentiment when Baldwin stepped down as national coach late January just months after leading a cadet-laden squad to a sweep of its group games in the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark before nearly pulling off an upset of world. No. 5 Serbia in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade.
Baldwin reportedly wanted to focus on his concurrent duty as Ateneo coach, but there has been speculation about his departure having something more than meets the eye.
Baldwin had been scarce since his reported resignation, but he broke his silence in an appearance in Eala’s Power and Play, admitting he misses his players.
Eala raved about Baldwin’s innovative mindset for the national team.
“When I interviewed him, Tab had a beautiful vision for Philippine sports,” Eala said. “He talked about we don’t need too many big men. Basketball is not all about palakihan. It’s about making people work together. And minsan nawawala tayo dun sa big picture eh.”
“Minsan, matangkad lang, gusto na nating isama lahat yan eh,” he added. “Andyan na yung sinasabi nating gusto natin nandyan si Kai, nandyan si AJ Edu, nandyan si Kouame. Gusto pa natin kumuha ng June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar. Lahat na ng malalaki. It doesn’t work eh. And I saw that vision from Tab.”
Baldwin’s brilliance is evident in the Blue Eagles, who are soaring through the ongoing UAAP Season 84, moving closer to another season sweep.
“Kung ako tatanungin, am I in favor of reinstating Tab? Yes, but we don’t what are the circumstances behind his leaving, so I don’t know if that’s even feasible,” Eala said.
For now, Gilas is focusing on the present, preparing for the Southeast Asian Games under Reyes, who is in his fourth tenure as national coach. His first time was when Eala chose him over Joel Banal in 2005.
“Talagang mainit na usapan yun. but I really thought he had a very good vision when he presented to us,” Eala said of Reyes. “I think he has a very good vision. Unfortunately, he was given very little time to prove it for this window. But I think, given some time, he will do something with the team.”