Baldwin still Gilas top man, for now

    BALDWIN: His position at Gilas is not cast in stone.
    BALDWIN: His position at Gilas is not cast in stone.

    TAB Baldwin will remain as project director of Gilas Pilipinas for now, according to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

    Speaking during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast yesterday, SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios said Baldwin will remain on top of the national team’s preparations for the 2023 FIBA World Cup that the country is co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia.

    While Barrios admitted the 62-year-old Baldwin, also the head coach of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, recently made public statements that were critical of the basketball landscape in the country, the governing body for the sport is letting the American-New Zealander stay on and plot the best possible approach for the Gilas program for the world basketball championship two years from now.

    “Sa ngayon wala naman not unless magsasalita ulit siya ng wala sa lugar,” Barrios said in the weekly public sports program where he was joined by SBP Director for Operations Butch Antonio.

    Barrios, former commissioner of the PBA, said SBP President Al Panlilio is planning to have a video conference with Baldwin and top officials and staff of the federation to address the Gilas program moving forward.

    At the same time, however, Barrios stressed nothing is cast in stone.

    “In any given situation, nobody has a lock on (a) position, not me, not Butch, not anybody,” Barrios stressed in the Forum powered by Smart and presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, Amelie Hotel, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. “As they always say, we serve at the pleasure of the president.”

    Baldwin, who has been fined P75,000 by the PBA and suspended for three games in his capacity as assistant coach of TnT Katropa, a position that he no longer occupies, was taken to task privately by the SBP for his critical comments.

    “Mr. Panlilio said the opinions that Tab Baldwin expressed were his personal ones, they were not aligned with the position of the SBP and certainly, not aligned with the personal opinion of president Al Panlilio.”

    More than Baldwin stirring the hornet’s nest, Antonio said the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was a major hindrance in the country’s basketball program, especially in terms of preparing for the 3×3 Olympic qualifier and the qualifying tournament for the FIBA Asia Cup next year.

    “Ang hirap pa ring makagalaw, but we just have to make sure that it’s in our awareness na meron pa ring tayong dapat pag-handaan,” said Antonio, the former Gilas Pilipinas team manager.

    The 3×3 Olympic qualifier where Gilas is among the 20 countries in contention for three berths still at stake in the Tokyo Games has been moved to May 2021, while the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers are set to resume this November. Some of the games last February had been cancelled due to the pandemic.

    The SBP also announced it raised and extended financial assistance to basketball personnel, mostly referees and table officials, within the grassroots and barangay levels during the lockdown period. The federation chose three out of the 16 regional directors to be in charge of handing out the financial package within Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.