TAB Baldwin said his immediate task as Gilas Pilipinas new head coach is to see the Philippine national team win the gold medal in next year’s Fiba Asia men’s championships and qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Baldwin, 56, was formally introduced as the new Gilas coach on Tuesday during a press conference attended by Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) vice chairman Ricky Vargas, SBP executive director Sonny Barrios, PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio and league commissioner Chito Salud at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“To be perfectly honest, we are excited with possibility of hosting the 2019 (Fiba World Cup), but let me just say this, I want to see Gilas Pilipinas in Rio, and I want to be in the Olympics,” said Baldwin, who before his appointment served as consultant to former national coach Chot Reyes.
“I want to see us (the Filipino players) have gold medals around our necks in the Fiba-Asia qualification. Those are the primary goals.”
Baldwin is coming in with glowing credentials, having previously served as national coach for countries like Malaysia, Lebanon, Jordan and his native country New Zealand, which he piloted to a semifinal stint in the 2002 Fiba World Championships in Indianapolis, USA.
The veteran international coach has been part of the Gilas national program since the buildup for last year’s Fiba-Asia men’s championships, where the Philippines placed second behind eventual champion Iran in Manila.
The runner-up finish enabled the Philippines to punch a ticket to this year’s Fiba World Cup in Spain, marking the first time the country has returned to the world stage since 1978.
Baldwin’s resume includes, among others, being in charge of entire national basketball programs that covers the under-16 and under-18 teams.
upon his appointment, the American-New Zealander took the time to honor and thank Reyes, who he has developed a special friendship with in the course of working together at Gilas the last two years.
“It’s with great honor and tremendous privilege to succeed coach Chot Reyes and assume as head coach of Gilas Pilipinas. I’m very, very excited with the team,” he said.
“This team is in good shape and this program is in good shape. And we hope to take this team and take this country to higher rankings and greater honor in the world basketball stage,” he added.
When asked if he plans to retain the 'dribble-drive' offense, which has been the backbone of Gilas’ system under Reyes, Baldwin responded in the affirmative.
“I’m still a bit new to that system but I’m enamored with it,” he said. “I learned a lot under coach Chot, and in fact, I took it (dribble-drive) back to New Zealand in the league I’m coaching last year and ran it with my team there as part of the broader system.
“I fully expect that we will continue to use that system, but i don’t expect it to be the entirety of our offensive system,” he added.