Tamed Eagles aim to fly high
But two successive losses, including a 67-80 defeat to Far Eastern U in the Final Four, has put the Blue Eagles’ impressive campaign in peril, a scenario which coach Tab Baldwin said is humbling for his team.
“We have to accept the humility of the scenario, we have to get back to understanding what we do well, and sort of rediscover who we are,” said Baldwin, moments after emerging from the Ateneo dugout at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.
“It’s there, there’s no question that it’s still there. But today I thought we played like a young team, and we shouldn’t. Yes, there’s youth there, but we’ve been together long enough and we shouldn’t play like a young team. We have to figure it out.”
The Tamaraws seemed to have the Eagles all figured out as they started strong and finished even stronger to send their Final Four matchup to a do-or-die affair this Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
While Baldwin acknowledged FEU’s brilliance, the American coach said the defeat was also due to his players lacking confidence with their shots.
Baldwin said his team shot “abysmally” in contrast to the Tamaraws, whom he described as “sharper on both ends of the floor.”
Ateneo shot just 36 percent from the field, including 31 percent from beyond the arc.
For a team that hardly showed any weakness in the elimination round, the sputtering performance by the Eagles came as a surprise.
“I think FEU played real well,” he said. “They had a good game plan, we shot the ball just abysmally. We had open shots particularly in the first half, and we didn’t hit them. I think our confidence kind of went down, and I hate to see that because with young kids, you don’t ever want to see their confidence sort of erode a little bit.”
Baldwin feels this type of adversity will only strengthen his players, saying he can already feel the urgency within the team.
“We just have to play a lot better and play much closer to what we’re capable of,” he added.
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