Ateneo names Tab Baldwin new Blue Eagles coach amid legal question
Gilas coach Tab Baldwin will now take over the Ateneo job in a concurrent capacity. Jerome Ascano

ATENEO made it official on Monday by naming Tab Baldwin as new head coach of its men’s basketball team.

The announcement of Baldwin taking over the post vacated by Bo Perasol was made through a memo issued and signed by school president Jose Ramon T. Vilalrin, SJ.

Villarin extolled the 55-year-old Baldwin for his great work in steering an underdog Gilas Pilipinas 3.0 team to a silver medal finish in the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship last October in Changsha, China, where the Filipinos came a win short of qualifying to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

At the same time, Villarin expressed gratitude to Perasol for handling the Blue Eagles team the last three years when Ateneo went through a transition following the exit of coach Norman Black, who led the school to five straight UAAP championships from 2008 to 2012.

"Coach Tab is a multi-titled mentor who has extensive coaching experience internationally, having coached the national teams of Jordan, New Zealand, and Lebanon,” part of the memo read.
 
“We could not have accomplished bringing such a renowned coach to Ateneo without the support and guidance of Manny Pangilinan. As always, we thank MVP for his leadership and constant care of our alma mater.”

Until Sunday night, Baldwin refused to comment on the Ateneo coaching appointment.

His appointment as Ateneo coach though, has left more questions than answers.

Already, Rain or Shine mentor Yeng Guiao raised the issue of a possible legal impediment to Baldwin’s appointment, based on a court ruling obtained by the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines (BCAP) barring foreign coaches from taking up positions which locals can competently perform.

[See Ateneo plan to tap Baldwin facing legal obstacle, warns Yeng Guiao]

His assumption too, to one of the most coveted coaching jobs in college could stand in the way of the national team’s preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next year.

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The qualifier is set July 4-10 or barely a month before the new UAAP season kicks off.

Nonetheless, just having Baldwin on board should be reason enough to be excited for the Ateneo community which has not tasted a championship in Perasol's three years in charge.

“We thank Coach Tab for his generosity in taking on this mission of coaching and forming our young men. We begin our preparations for Season 79 right away this December and we look forward to working hard for the UAAP championship,” said Vilalrin.

“As I have said before, if we set our sights on winning, it is never solely for our own glory. In everything, even in the small things (las cosas pequeñas), we dare to make an oblation of our lives ad majorem Dei gloriam.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos