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New Zealand’s Paul Henare, feels for his mentor, Tab Baldwin
by rick olivares
After New Zealand painfully ended the Philippines’ Olympic dreams with a masterful 89-80 victory in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament last Wednesday, July 6, at the Mall of Asia Arena, the victorious head coach, Paul Henare, took time to reflect on beating his old coach and mentor, Tab Baldwin.
“I have mixed emotions,” admitted Henare post-match. "I played for him for over ten years. We started off as coach and player and in time we became very close friends. Any time you compete against your friends you want some of those bragging rights. But what I am feeling right now is mixed. It was an honor to compete against him. I take pride that the two of us are coaching in an international level. But again, I am feeling for him. I know what it is like."
The 37-year old Henare played for Baldwin during New Zealand's 2002 FIBA World Cup run where they made it all the way to the semi-finals only to lose to eventual champion Yugoslavia, 89-78. Like Baldwin before him, Henare guided the New Zealand Breakers to three Australian NBL titles in the last five years.
Henare was assisted by Pero Cameron, also another of those 2002 Tall Blacks veterans of Baldwin's who made that tournament’s Mythical Five selection alongside Germany’s Dirk Nowitski, China’s Yao Ming, Argentina’s Manu Ginobili, and Serbia’s Peja Stojakovic. Both of them have been minding the Tall Blacks since 2015.
“Those were great years we had together in New Zealand,” later added Henare. “Coach Tab sowed the seeds that we are reaping today."
With the victory over host nation, the Philippines, New Zealand assured themselves of a slot in the semi-finals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila.
The Tall Blacks play France on Thursday, July 7. The winner of that match will play the second place squad of Group A while the losing team will take on Canada, that qualified earlier in the day with a 58-55 triumph over Senegal.