SBP chief Al Panlilio says Tab Baldwin reason for Gilas’ recent problems
MANILA, Philippines — Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio blamed Tab Baldwin’s exit for Gilas Pilipinas’ string of disappointing results.
Panlilio on Monday appeared in a rare interview on SEAG Network’s Facebook page where he said the recent Philippine men’s basketball team’s debacle was not at all the fault of current coach Chot Reyes, who has been under fire on social media.
The federation chief pointed to Baldwin’s sudden stepping down as the reason for the team’s frustrating results in the Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers and a disappointing ninth place finish in the Fiba Asia Cup including an embarrassing silver medal finish in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“It wasn’t his (Reyes) doing. Honestly, the predicament that we are in today is because of Tab,” Panlilio revealed in the interview. “We started losing players. He didn’t want to coach in the February window. As a federation, we had to make decisions on how to move forward.”
After staying mum since Reyes replaced Baldwin early this year, Panlilio said the American-Kiwi coach had a meeting with chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan to express his plans to step down for Gilas in the February window and focus on Ateneo for the UAAP Season 84, which staged from March to May.
“That conversation was between MVP and Tab. MVP did tell me and Ricky Vargas for the February window Tab said to him he won’t be able to coach for that window and would rather focus on Ateneo at that time,” the SBP president.
“That was quite alarming for me because it felt like he was supposed to be the program director, the national coach of the team and suddenly he can’t coach for one window,” he added.
Panlilio shared that Baldwin recommended Reyes when Pangilinan asked him about his possible replacement.
“At the same time MVP asked him who would be able to replace him. He did say Chot. I think he knew he had no team and he had no chance to perform well,” he said.
STICKING WITH CHOT
The SBP president also revealed that Chot Reyes tendered his resignation after an underwhelming finish in the SEA Games last May. But the federation rejected it as it plans to keep him as program director and head coach until the Fiba World Cup 2023.
“He has after the SEA Games. It is not his fault as I said, I think there are a lot of issues that we have to address. We didn’t accept that,” Panlilio said. “I think we’re here to really support Chot all the way now that Tim Cone is coming in with Nenad (Vucinic) also there and also Goldwin (Monteverde) helping out. I think that’s the best way for us to go.”
Under Baldwin, Gilas Pilipinas swept all its six games in Group A of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers with his young team led by Kai Sotto, Ange Kouame, Dwight Ramos, and SJ Belangel beating South Korea twice. The young group also put up a gallant stand in the Olympic Qualifiers in Belgrade.
In the 2022 Asia Cup, the Philippines, which fielded a new team under Reyes, only won its match against India and ended its stint with a 102-81 loss to Japan, missing the quarterfinals of the tournament for the first time in 15 years.
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Panlilio said Baldwin had more time to prepare unlike Reyes, who had three different sets of teams from the February window of the World Cup Asian Qualifiers, SEA Games, and the recent window and Asia Cup this month.
“After performing very well in the Asia Cup qualifying and in fact, beating Korea twice. He also had time to prepare for that he had three months to prepare for that because everybody was in a bubble. You have time,” he said. “Chot didn’t have that. First of all, he didn’t have players. The band-aid solution then was to bring in the TNT team and help out.”
“It was a very difficult time for the SBP because we didn’t have players and the national coach that time said he couldn’t coach in the February window and rather focus on Ateneo. We had to ask Chot to step in,” he added.
Panlilio is looking forward to SBP’s important meeting with the basketball stakeholders on August 1 where officials from the PBA, NCAA, and UAAP are expected to come.
The federation is seeking to unite all stakeholders to form the best team possible for the country’s hosting of the Fiba World Cup 2023 and also looking to address the availability issues of the players in the upcoming Asian Qualifier windows, especially in November when all the leagues are ongoing.
Panlilio said they are planning to form a pool of up to 20 players in May next year, composed of PBA players and Gilas cadets.
He is also eyeing adding one or two 6-foot-10 naturalized players to join Ange Kouame and Jordan Clarkson.
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