Hawks coach swoops into Bay

By Patrick O'Sullivan


The Hawke's Bay Hawks' new basketball coach, Tab Baldwin, did nothing but smile when his plane landed yesterday.

"New Zealand is home and that's what I was looking for - to come back," Baldwin said.

With the loss of Paul Henare as coach, what was a problem has turned into a coup for the successful Bay team.

Baldwin, a former Tall Blacks coach, also coached the former Auckland Stars to five NBL titles in eight years before heading to China. He said there were no plans for player imports from there.

"There is always money in basketball but China is one of the real rich spots - they calculate the television audience for their league at 750 million people. Those are numbers that are incomprehensible anywhere else in the world."

Basketball Hawke's Bay general manager Paul Trass was relieved to see Baldwin: "My stress levels are down - it is really hell recruiting a team with one person in China and one person in Napier.

"We have some really exciting things happening - some announcements we can now make regarding sponsors and players."

Baldwin has an easy rapport with Trass, who he said put in "mountains and mountains of work for years and years" for the love of the game.

"Paul didn't get this grey hair because he got old."

Baldwin's relationship with Hawke's Bay Basketball general manager operations Curtis Wooten is also strong - Wooten was Baldwin's assistant coach and flatmate in Auckland.

"Where the Hawks have been is a credit to these guys," Baldwin said. He felt there was no one thing he had learned from China.

"I think I have, more and more every year, learned what professionalism is and what it isn't - professionalism doesn't require money."

His four children weren't at the airport to greet him - they were starting their new schools - but his wife, Efi, was.

Baldwin's plan for the season was simple.

"To win and win a lot. We have to put the team together and we are well under way with that.

"Paul and Curtis do a great job at that, so now I am here to just finish what they have started and get stuck in."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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