Basketball: Hawks pick up the Tab

Tab Baldwin. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Tab Baldwin. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Faced with the daunting task of replacing Paul Henare, the Hawkes Bay Hawks basketball outfit pulled a rabbit out of the hat by signing former Tall Blacks coach Tab Baldwin for the 2013 National Basketball League season.

The 54-year-old hasn't coached in the competition since 2001, but has won more titles than any other coach in league history, guiding the Auckland Stars to five in eight seasons.

His return gives him a chance to regain the lead for career wins - he currently has 203, second only to current Tall Blacks coach Nenad Vucinic (237).

Baldwin was a key figure in the development of predecessor Henare as a player, luring him from Napier to Auckland in 1998 to be part of his championship dynasty. After hanging up his sneakers, Henare guided the Hawks to the 2011 NBL final and the semis again last season, but has signed with the Southland Sharks next year.

After leaving the NBL, Baldwin steered the national men's team to their first Oceania series victory over Australia in 2001, taking them to two world championships, the 2004 Athens Olympics and silver medals at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

He surrendered the Tall Blacks' reins in 2007 to pursue a professional career in Europe, coaching in Turkey, Romania and Greece, before taking the Lebanon men to the 2010 world championships and Jordan within a basket of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.

He is currently coaching the Fujian Sturgeons in the Chinese national league. Baldwin will arrive in Napier in the New Year for pre-season.

"Returning to New Zealand is such an exciting move for me and my family,'' Baldwin said.

"I've missed the people, the lifestyle and the basketball community that have given me so much throughout my career.''

- APNZ

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