SBP appoints Gilas foreign coach to also handle team in SEABA, SEAGames (Sports)

January 23, 2015 11:51 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 23 — In a move aimed at synchronizing the country’s international basketball program, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas-PBA Search and Selection committee headed by SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan expanded on Friday the role of newly-appointed Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin to include two other national teams to be formed for two more regional tournaments this year.

Baldwin, who took over from Chot Reyes last December, was named head coach in simultaneous capacity of the national squad bound for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) tournament in April and the Southeast Asian Games in June, both to be held in Singapore.

“We expect Coach Tab to take off running as men's national team head coach and that is why it is best he gets his feet wet early,” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios.

“Aside from successfully defending our crowns at SEABA and SEAG, he is tasked at leading our men's team to qualifying for the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics by winning the FIBA ASIA Qualifying in Hunan."

The SEABA competition on April 27 to May 4 is the qualifying tournament to the FIBA Asia Championship on Sept. 23 to Oct. 3 in Hunan, China where the champion team will, in turn, represent the region in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Both the SEABA and SEA Games teams will be manned by Gilas Cadets, led by Keifer Ravena, Ray-Ray Parks and Garvo Lanete, plus 6-foot-11 naturalized player Marcus Douthit, who took the place of former NBA Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche, also a naturalized player, during the Incheon Asian Games last year.

The Philippines finished second behind Iran in the 17th FIBA Asia Championship which the country hosted at the Mall of Asia Arena two years ago, paving the way for the country’s return to the global stage after more than three decades via the 17th FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain last year.

Powered by Blatche, Gilas Pilipinas waged memorable battles with world cage powers Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico in Seville before capping its historic participation by beating FIBA Africa qualifier Senegal in overtime, 81-79, in the second round of the preliminaries for the country’s first victory in the world championship in 40 years.

The 28th SEA Games, which Philippine basketball teams have ruled with an iron hand save for one or two editions, is set June 5-16 and will feature teams from neighboring Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore, among others.

Baldwin, born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1958 before moving to New Zealand 30 years later, has coached the national teams of Malaysia, New Zealand, Lebanon and Jordan, and is expected, upon consultation with Pangilinan and other top SBP officials, to begin forming the latest edition Gilas squad next week, starting with his coaching staff.

On tap for Gilas in the next few months is the William Jones Cup Invitational in Taipei in July and yet to be announced foreign trips now and later before the Nationals and Baldwin fly to Hunan, China to vie for an Olympic slot, with Blatche joining them there.

Meantime, Patrick Aquino, coach of the UAAP basketball champion National University Lady Bulldogs, will take over the helm from erstwhile PH women’s team mentor Haydee Ong, while the SBP hopes to appoint within the next few days the successor to former Gilas Under-16 coach Jamike Jarin, who was named coach of five-peat NCAA champion San Beda Red Lions in lieu of Boyet Fernandez, now the PBA NLEX Road Warriors coach.

The Gilas U16 team under Jarin toppled Iran in the semifinals of the 2013 FIBA Asia tournament in Tehran, Iran before falling to the towering Chinese in the final. The strong runnerup finish qualified the team to see action in the FIBA U17 World Championship in Dubai last year, and Jarin’s departure leaves the U16 squad with big shoes to fill.

Cagayan de Oro City and Xavier University are hosting on April 10-21 the SEABA U16 tourney, the qualifier to the FIBA Asia tournament reportedly in Bangalore, India. (PNA)

SCS/JFM/PR

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