WHAT'S with the delay of naming the next Gilas Pilipinas coach?
For Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) program director Tab Baldwin, the reason is simple: there's really no job to fulfill at this time.
"If we were to hire a full-time coach tomorrow, what would that coach do? I think we all have to ask ourselves that because there's no games and there's no training for games," he told Coaches Unfiltered.
"So we would be hiring a coach to do either nothing or will interfere with what I'm doing. So my job then, if I'm a clever guy, would be to make sure that the coach hired is in absolute accordance with everything that I'm doing so that pathway would continue."
TNT consultant Mark Dickel was appointed in an interim capacity in Gilas' 100-70 victory over Indonesia last Feb. 23 in the first window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers - the last to hold the job over the past couple of years that also saw Chot Reyes, Yeng Guiao, and Tim Cone take their turns.
SBP president Al Panlilio had said that the federation is looking to hire a full-time mentor in time for the second window in November. That timeline, however, now depends on how early competitions can return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
And it's exactly the reason why hiring a coach is still far from Baldwin's mind.
"I think the easier thing to do is just not hire a coach right now and let our program evolve and develop what we believe is going to be a very strong national team," the concurrent Ateneo coach said.
"And then, we'll match that with a coach that we believe merits being involved with that team, but also a coach that we believe can take that team and assemble it and make it into actually a strong basketball team."
"So let us do the job of developing the program. Let us use our expertise of the local coaches, myself being a local coach now after being here for five years, with a lot of international experience, and also working with the other established local coaches who also have international experience, and build the players that we know and understand into a pool of players that we can then bring, hopefully, a very highly respected, very successful international coach to say, 'Alright, this is your pool. Let's now select your team with you out of this pool and let you get busy building this pool into a world-class basketball team.'"
Baldwin hopes a full-time Gilas coach can be appointed within a year. But that, too, may change if the ideal choice becomes available much earlier.
"That process can take place well within one year. Now, is that the horizon for the hiring of a national coach? No, not necessarily," Baldwin said.
"Maybe if the ideal candidate pops up and we run the risk of losing that candidate, if we don't hire them in the next six months, maybe we will want to grab him then and work through the issues together of developing this team. But I think that has the potential of creating conflict at the moment that we don't need," he said.
Baldwin acknowledged he's excited to see the next Gilas team come together. It's just that the time for naming the next steward of the national team isn't here yet.
"Right now, I'm the project director to put together this group of players and build them into something that we can present as a national team. That's my job. That's the job that I've been given and I relish it. I love the challenge and I think that it's one of the more challenging and enjoyable jobs that I've had in my 40-year career," he said.
"So we want to delay the naming of a full-time national coach until we actually have a pool of players that are representative of what can be a full-time national team so he actually has something to do."