SINGAPORE – After the Philippines wrapped up its final preliminary match in the basketball competitions of the 28th Southeast Asian Games with a 105-point rout of Timor Leste, coach Tab Baldwin approached every single player and the coach of the opposing team to give them words of encouragement before heading to the locker room.
Baldwin admitted making the gesture since he can relate to Timor Leste, a small country which is just beginning its basketball program by competing in the biennial meet for the first time.
“I’ve been in small countries. I’ve coach in countries where they use two-year old basketballs, you don’t have assistant coaches. I know how it is,” said Baldwin.
The American-New Zealander coach recalled about his experiences of working and coaching with other countries following Gilas cadets’ 126-21 whipping of Timor Leste.
“New Zealand wasn’t even on a dot in the basketball map and I worked many years there under tough conditions. The only reason I worked there was that I love the game and I had an opportunity.
“Romania wasn’t a place where there were many resources. I coached a club and it was tough. Jordan doesn’t have a lot. We happened to have good players and went along with it. But they didn’t have resources,” he pointed out.
That is why Baldwin feels blessed to be coaching the Philippines, a country whose passion for basketball knows no limit.
“I’m blessed and the Philippines is blessed that we have a basketball program,” Baldwin said.
Despite winning by more than 100 points, Baldwin said he was also careful not to embarrass Timor Leste.
“We just wanted to give an honest effort. You noticed we didn’t try to run fastbreak plays. We didn’t feel that we need a lay-up drill today. It’s in the best interest of everybody,” said Baldwin.
The national coach said he only hopes for the best for Timor Leste’s basketball program.
“I want to encourage them because that’s what they need. They love the game as much as we do. I hope that they get every opportunity and grow the program. Maybe in the next few years, they can come here and be more competitive.”