Norwood, Lee nothing but praise for defensive-minded Baldwin
MANILA, Philippines – The new Gilas Pilipinas coach is a “great basketball mind.”
Gilas Pilipinas cagers Gabe Norwood and Paul Lee are confident about newly-appointed national men’s basketball team head coach Tab Baldwin, saying he is a defensive coach who has an unconventional way of running things.
“He’s a great coach, a great basketball mind. Honestly I put him up there in the rankings of some of the best coaches I’ve ever played for,” Norwood said Monday, December 22 after Rain or Shine’s semis Game 3 loss to Alaska. “[He’s a] great motivator and just a very smart coach, defensive-minded and a very tough-minded coach.”
“More on defensive coach siya. Sa depensa talaga nagtutuon ng pansin si coach Tab,” added Lee. (He’s more of a defensive coach. Coach Tab puts great emphasis on defense.)
The American-New Zealander was revealed as the new Gilas coach on Monday, December 22 and will officially be introduced in a press conference on Tuesday, December 23. He signed a 4-year deal with the nationals, which reportedly begins in January 2015.
But before his new role, Baldwin, 56, served as consultant to the nationals since 2013 when they bagged the silver in the FIBA Asia Championship held in Manila. He has since been an integral part of Gilas as they journeyed through the 2014 FIBA World Cup and the 2014 Asian Games.
Norwood assured Baldwin was fully involved with the team every step of the way.
“He’s very active. He’s with us. It’s not like he was a shadow for us. He was there involved in everything. He’s fully committed to the country and to the program.”
As a hands-on consultant, Baldwin worked on Gilas’ defensive schemes and improving individual skills. Results showed in the World Cup when Gilas managed to stay within striking distance of their powerhouse opponents until the final buzzer. The Philippines ultimately lost by an average of just 4.6 points in 5 defeats.
“Just his tactics in terms of fundamentals, especially defensively. I take pride in my defense and it was something I picked up,” Norwood shared some of the specific lessons he learned from Baldwin.
“It’s just a little bit out of the norms. Sometimes you get locked in by defenders and you don’t see the ball and things like that. In terms of footwork and spacing I think he really helped us. I think it showed the way we performed in the World Cup. We fell short but defensively I think we played very well.”
Lee also picked up plenty from Baldwin, who has extensive international coaching experience having spent time mentoring the national teams of Jordan, New Zealand, and Lebanon in the past.
“Marami ako natutunan sa kanya lalo na yung pag-read ng mga picks,” the shifty guard admitted he’s able to apply what he learned to Rain or Shine in the PBA. “Nakakatulong naman sa akin ngayon.”
(I learned a lot from him especially when it comes to reading picks. It still helps me now.)
Norwood further elaborated how Baldwin’s defensive schemes are team-oriented and more than just individual tactics.
“It’s more of a team concept. There’s little tricks of the trade that you pick up individually but overall it’s more of a system thing,” the athletic swingman explained. “He does things kind of different. I don’t know if the natural or everyday watcher will pick it up but for those who really know the game, I think they will see it.”
As far as Baldwin’s commitment to the team and the nation it represents, Norwood has no doubts the many-time New Zealand National Basketball League champion coach is fully devoted to Gilas, whose next goal is to win the gold at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship and qualify for the Olympics in 2016.
“I think he’s been fully committed to, not just Gilas, but the whole country the past couple of years. I’m happy for him and hopefully he builds a staff that lives up to his capabilities also.” – Rappler.com