Vargas on Baldwin apology: A bit insincere

PBA chair and TNT board representative Ricky Vargas on Tuesday said that Tab Baldwin’s apology was a “bit insincere,” but the affable executive reiterated that wasn’t the reason why the Kiwi-American was given his walking papers as the KaTropa assistant.

“We had that planned for a long time,” Vargas told the Inquirer over the phone regarding Baldwin’s tenure as assistant coach. “It (end of Baldwin’s stint with TNT) was a win-win, as it turned out, as it opened the door for us to hire Ranidel (de Ocampo) as an assistant coach.”

Baldwin came under fire three weeks ago after comments he made in a podcast that insulted local coaches while calling the PBA’s import-laden conferences formats a mistake. He also accused the PBA referees of giving special treatment to imports while calling the world governing body Fiba “criminal” for one of its rules on citizenship.

Apology accepted

Vargas said that he accepted Baldwin’s apology after that interview, but during his guesting at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday said the Ateneo coach was a “bit insincere.”

“For me, that was over and done with after he apologized [to us],” Vargas said. “But to tell other people that he was quoted out of context made me think that he was a bit insincere [in his apology].”

Vargas, however, was quick to say that easing Baldwin out of TNT was part of the team’s plan since before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the PBA’s 45th season on March 11.“He will concentrate on Ateneo and with whatever role he will have with the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, where he is the program director),” Vargas said. “You cannot deny the fact that the Ateneans’ love him for what he has done to help the school’s [cage] program in the last three years.”

Under Baldwin, the Blue Eagles have won the last three UAAP championships and have a program that seems rock-solid for many more years to come.

Vargas said that it will be up to SBP president Al Panlilio if there would be additional sanctions on Baldwin.

Panlilio, who is also the governor of Meralco in the PBA, had distanced his association with Baldwin just days after that controversial podcast by saying that the former Gilas Pilipinas coach’s views were totally different from “how the SBP thinks and from what I think.”

The PBA had already fined Baldwin P75,000 and suspended him three games—which he cannot now serve unless he finds another team, and league commissioner Willie Marcial advised him to try and mend fences with the coaches he had offended with his remarks. INQ


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