Editorial: Hawks on the ball with new coach

By Andrew Austin

If it had not been for the presence of a reporter and photographer from this newspaper, many people at Hawke's Bay Airport yesterday morning wouldn't have realised that someone important was arriving in town.

Either way, most would not have recognised the fit, middle-aged bald man getting off the plane from Auckland.

It was a very low-key welcome for a man of his stature, but he probably preferred it that way. The man in question is supercoach Tab Baldwin, who most people will remember for his role in catapulting our national basketball team, the Tall Blacks, into the semifinals at the 2002 World Cup.

Baldwin, an American by birth who regards New Zealand as his home, has built a reputation as a top coach.

The good news is that he is now our coach - having arrived to guide our beloved Hawke's Bay Hawks as they strive to win their second Bartercard National Basketball League (NBL) title this year. He replaces his former player Paul Henare, who guided the Hawks to the 2011 NBL final last season, but has signed with the Southland Sharks.

Baldwin has spoken fondly of this province, saying he has many old friends in Hawke's Bay.

Whoever persuaded him to come and coach the Hawks should get a raise as he has the credentials to coach virtually anywhere in the world. He has come here fresh from coaching the Fujian SBS Xunxing team in the Chinese Basketball Association league.

I know people who worked with Baldwin in his early days at the former Auckland side and they speak very highly of his professionalism and his dedication to the team he is coaching. He has that characteristic that all good coaches have - the ability to get the best out of his team, but more than that, he commands respect.

Just having him pacing on the sidelines will boost his team's confidence and hopefully put a bit of fear into our opponents.

Basketball in the province is in good health with Baldwin at the helm and hopefully his presence will encourage more people to get along and support our boys when the season starts.

Go the Hawks.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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