27 Sep 2012

Hawks pick up the Tab

7:14 am on 27 September 2012

The Hawke's Bay basketball team will be coached by the former Tall Blacks mentor Tab Baldwin next year.

With local legend Paul Henare off to Southland to take over the Sharks, the Hawks have turned to the most successful coach in the history of the National Basketball League.

Baldwin, who's currently working in China, hasn't coached in the NBL since 2001, but the 54-year-old has won more titles than any other coach, guiding the Auckland Stars to five rings in eight seasons.

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.

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.