MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) chairman Ricky Vargas did not want to get involved in the controversy surrounding Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin, who drew the ire of the local coaching community because of his recent comments.
This, as Vargas is also the team governor of TNT KaTropa, where Baldwin used to be part of the coaching staff. It was recently confirmed that Baldwin will no longer be an assistant coach for the franchise, and will instead focus on his tasks with Ateneo and the Gilas Pilipinas program.
"I stayed non-involved," Vargas said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday. "Pinabayaan ko na lang si commissioner (Willie Marcial) to work on it, and I did not stop anybody from airing their concerns."
Baldwin angered local coaches when he discussed their "tactical immaturity" during an appearance on the "Coaches Unfiltered" podcast. The former national team mentor had been asked about what surprised him about Filipino coaches when he first arrived in the Philippines.
Baldwin went on to explain that the immaturity he spoke of was not necessarily the fault of the coaches, but rather a function of a "regulatory flaw" in the PBA -- the single-import conference. For him, having only one import limits the local coaches and the players, as they grow to rely too much on their reinforcements.
The Ateneo coach cleared the air with the PBA, apologizing to Marcial and explaining that his comments were taken out of context. Nonetheless, the league fined him P75,000 and suspended him for three games.
For Vargas, Baldwin's apology felt somewhat insincere because of his insistence that he was "taken out of context."
"Ang naging impact sa akin noong comment niya (na) 'taken out of context,' after the apology he made, was a little bit insincere," said Vargas.
"Because it was sort of saying, 'I apologized, but I was taken out of context.' So it tended to push it to blaming others," he added. "The consequences of that statement na 'taken out of context' was… (it) became more divisive."
Vargas revealed that Baldwin had already apologized to him in private.
"I have accepted the apology," he said.
The TNT governor previously stressed that removing Baldwin from their coaching staff had nothing to do with his recent controversy, but rather was a decision they made even before the lockdown.
Yet when asked if Baldwin still enjoyed the full support of his backers as the program director of Gilas Pilipinas, Vargas deferred the question.
"That question should be given to Al Panlilio, who is the president of the SBP. As far as I know, he (Baldwin) is helping out the SBP," said Vargas.
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