PBA won't take Tab's remarks sitting down

June 13, 2020

SAN Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua said coach Tab Baldwin’s suggestion to have more than one PBA import in one team is ill-timed.

“Nagtitipid nga ngayon dahil walang liga tapos gusto niya tatlong imports pa,” said Chua.

Baldwin's statement has caught the attention of the PBA, which is set to sanction the former Gilas Pilipinas coach for his other comments in a basketball vodcast on officiating and the way the league is being run.

Commissioner Willie Marcial said a fine or a suspension, or both, will likely be meted on Baldwin.

In last Thursday's "Coaches Unfiltered" vodcast, Baldwin said the league's current one-import format has stunted the growth of the game, especially with the "rules latitude that the imports are given here by the referees and by the administration of the PBA."

"As an industry here, we have one major, major flaw in the basketball landscape of the Philippines, and it's a regulatory flaw, and that is that in the PBA, we have three conferences with two of those conferences are single-import conferences. This is a big mistake," said Baldwin.

"We should never have a single import playing on a team," he added.

For Chua, hiring two to three reinforcements to raise the level of competition in the 45-year-old league, as Baldwin suggested, would further deny Filipino players the needed exposure to develop their games and gain confidence.

“Tatlong imports? E di hindi na nakalaro yung mga locals. Ilan ba ang average minutes ng mga imports?” said Chua. “Paano yung iba ang rotation siyam or sampung players lang, e kung tatlo pa yung imports mo, alangan namang hindi mo gamitin yung mga yun (imports).”

"Yung isang import nga hindi nila ma-control, tatlo pa."

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao shared the same sentiments with Chua.

“Hindi niya (Baldwin) alam na nag-dalawa, tatlong import na tayo dati. It didn’t work for us. It was costly and at the same time, it lessened the opportunities of the locals to play. Ewan ko kung alam nya ‘yun. Multiple imports din tayo. We tried that experiment if he doesn’t know it. It creates less opportunities for the locals. And for the scale of our economies, it’s not viable economically and financially,” Guiao said.

In contrast to Baldwin’s statements, Guiao said that the PBA has lured quality imports.

“’Yung mga imports naman natin, hindi masama eh. ‘Yung mga imports natin, naglalaro sa China, Japan, Korea. Dun lang naman natin kayang i-compare ang sarili natin. Hindi naman masama ‘yung mga imports natin. Karamihan nakalaro na sa level na ‘yun,” said Guiao.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PBA is anticipating a possible season without foreign reinforcements. The pro league is plotting for a restart of its 45th season with the all-Filipino tournament.

Baldwin is also in hot water for saying that "there is an apparent double standards with the way league referees and officials are treating local players and imports".

Such comments, Marcial believes, are "detrimental to the league" and will therefore be dealt with accordingly. Marcial pointed out that Baldwin, who is also the national men's basketball team program director, is listed as a TNT assistant coach.

Also, Marcial said that Baldwin even has an unpaid fine from a separate infraction while coaching Cignal-Ateneo in a PBA D-League game.

The league chief categorically denied that foreign players are treated differently from locals by the game officials, saying these reinforcements themselves often have the most beef against officiating.

"Mas marami pa ngang reklamo ang mga imports keysa sa mga locals," said Marcial.

Chua said Baldwin’s scathing remarks about the PBA's one import-conference-format, officiating and coaching are the last things the league needs at this time when it is trying to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis.

The concurrent Barangay Ginebra governor added there’s a proper venue for Baldwin to air his grievances if he’s really after the welfare of the league.

“Kung may suggestion siya, that’s not the proper way. Sabihin niya sa governor (TNT's Ricky Vargas) to relay it sa PBA office. I-suggest mo ng maganda. Hindi yung babanatan niya 'yung PBA,” said Chua of Baldwin.

Guiao also felt that Baldwin could have used the proper channels available to him if he wants to contribute to the development of coaching in the Philippines.

“I feel that he has something to contribute which is what he was actually saying. Parang gusto niya maimprove lang ‘yung coaching dito. I feel that if he has something to contribute, then very easily, he could have used his platform to either go to the coaching association, go to the PBA, or to the SBP which has a coaching academy," said Guiao.

“There were a lot of avenues that he could make use of if he is sincere in imparting that knowledge or correcting the flaw. There were avenues other than disparaging the local coaching community in public. Kung gusto mong tumulong, merong paraan without disrespecting your hosts,” he added.