Gilas taps NZ coach to boost PH bench
A tactical whiz with a semifinal coaching stint in the world championship will be on the Philippine side in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship set Aug. 1 to 11 at MOA Arena and Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
Thomas “Tab” Baldwin, the American coach of the New Zealand national quintet, arrived on Saturday on the invitation of national coach Chot Reyes to infuse valuable insight that will help the Gilas Pilipinas campaign to clinch a seat in next year’s Fiba World Cup in Spain.
The invitation came after Gilas played six tuneup games in New Zealand early this month capped by a friendly against the Tall Blacks, the NZ national five handled by Baldwin.
Baldwin is the most victorious coach in the New Zealand National Basketball League after steering the Auckland Stars to five championship titles.
“Yes, we invited him to help the team in its preparation for the Fiba Asia,” said Gilas team manager Butch Antonio.
With Baldwin calling the shots, the Tall Blacks reached the semifinals of the 2002 Fiba World Championship in Indiana, the best performance by an Oceania team in the history of the world championships.
Baldwin, who also coached Jordan to a runner-up finish in the 2011 Asian championship in Wuhan, China, will stay with Gilas bench for the duration of the tournament. The American also had a hand in Lebanon’s stint in the 2010 Fiba worlds in Istanbul, Turkey.
Aside from Baldwin, Reyes also gained precious inputs from seasoned coaches Tim Cone and Rajko Toroman, who steered Gilas to a fourth-place finish in Wuhan, the best performance by the Filipino dribblers in the Asian-level meet since 1987.
The coaching staff of Reyes is composed of Nash Racela, Josh Reyes and multititled PBA coaches Norman Black and Jong Uichico.
These coaches, along with Baldwin, Toroman and Cone, will try to solve the puzzle of Asian heavyweights China and Iran, and other Fiba Asia semifinal contenders like South Korea, Jordan, Qatar, Japan and Kazakhstan.