MANILA, Philippines -- While there was clamor for him to take over as the full-time head coach of Gilas Pilipinas after the team's impressive performance in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, Tab Baldwin is sticking to his original plan.
That is, he intends to assess his own performance, and that of the team's, after they compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, this week.
Baldwin steered a young Gilas squad to a sweep of the third and final qualifying window in Clark, Pampanga last week, which included two impressive victories over rivals South Korea. Their first win over the Asian powerhouse was particularly noteworthy as Gilas clawed its way back from an early deficit, and won on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by point guard SJ Belangel.
"The results really flatter us," Baldwin said on "The Chasedown" of their success in Clark. "We weren't expecting these kinds of results this early. I think a lot of the credit has to go to the players, and obviously to the guys that are working with the team, the coaching staff and our management team."
The young team's victories -- particularly over South Korea -- have led to calls for Baldwin to take charge on the sidelines full-time, even as he continues to be the director of the program.
But Baldwin, who is also the head coach of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, stressed that they will stay on track and make an assessment after the OQT on the best step to take for the national team.
"This is a program, and again, it is fluid. There will be ongoing decisions made on what we believe SBP, myself, Coach Ryan (Gregorio), what we believe is best for the program," he said.
"So nothing is set in stone. Nobody has a right to any of these positions," he stressed.
"We all have a privilege to take part as long as we can contribute to the best of our ability. And I know that all sounds cliche, but in this instance, it is exactly the way that we need to conduct ourselves."
Baldwin warned that there is no certainty for any of them in terms of sticking to their positions.
"Everybody needs to know that at any point in time, if somebody better comes along, they're gonna have the spot that you're sitting in today. And I think that helps us to perform better everyday," he said.
When told that fans are hopeful that he will coach the national team until the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Baldwin said he respects the sentiment.
"It's their right to express their feelings and their thoughts, and we encourage that," he said.
However, he also pointed out that the Gilas Pilipinas program "cannot be driven by the emotions of fans and the wishes of fans."
"We really have to be driven by what we as the supposed experts in this program, what we believe is best for the program," he said. "We have to approach this very professionally, and that's the way I intend for things to work as long as I'm the director."
Baldwin was the third coach to call the shots for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
Mark Dickel took on the role in the first window, where the Philippines routed Indonesia in February 2020. In November last year, Jong Uichico took over and steered the team to back-to-back victories over Thailand in a bubble in Bahrain.