UAAP Season 80 Preview: Ateneo Blue Eagles look to pick up where they left off
Coach: Tab Baldwin
Last Season: 10-4 (Runner-up)
Holdovers: Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Mike Nieto
Additions: Tyler Tio, Troy Mallillin, Gian Mamuyac, BJ Andrade
Key Losses: G-Boy Babilonia
While it came as a surprise, Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin doesn’t consider the Blue Eagles’ finals run as an overachievement.
But the American-Kiwi coach admits that their runner-up finish to La Salle set them up for higher expectations this UAAP Season 80 but that is something Baldwin is trying to temper.
“I think there’d be a lot of expectations outside of our camp. Within, we just want to get off to a good start in the UAAP,” he said. “We’re gonna be a team that hopefully plays off of last season’s finish and has more maturity this year. I believe this team can be good. We will be tested.”
Parading a virtually intact roster for this campaign, Ateneo will once again rely on its key guys like Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, and Mike Nieto.
Just like last year, the Blue Eagles won’t have just a single go-to-guy with the entire team capable of stepping upany given moment, making them a tough draw for their foes.
“We’re a coaching staff that’s going to ride whoever’s worth riding at the time. It could be Thirdy on one day, it could be someone else on another day. I just spoke to the team about that — that I have confidence on all of these guys and if they’re having a good game, they’ll find themselves out there. As long as they’re prepared to play defense at the other end of the floor.”
Baldwin is aware of how the rest of the league has tried to improve over the off-season like the Blue Eagles, making the race a fair game.
But he is banking on his players’ trust in his system, which is looking for Blue Eagles to go all-out for the whole 40 minutes on the floor.
“Generally speaking, I think this team is gonna be a very hard-working team. This is gonna be a team that relishes the defensive end of the floor. But we’re gonna have our letdowns during the campaign. They’re gonna come in every aspect of the game. So promises? No. But having said that, I like them. And most of the time, they’re gonna give us whatever we’re asking for,” he said.
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