Ateneo's road to UAAP title started in Baler training camp | Inquirer Sports

Ateneo’s road to UAAP title started in Baler training camp

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 09:06 PM December 09, 2017

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Ateneo’s journey to its ninth UAAP seniors basketball title didn’t start in the Blue Eagles’ 85-65 bludgeoning of Adamson University in the season opener, the odyssey started way back in the summer of 2017.

The Blue Eagles traveled from Katipunan to Baler to hold a hellish training camp that the players and coaches vowed to never speak of its details.

Co-captain Mike Nieto said it was the camp’s hardship that strengthened them not only physically but also emotionally.

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“The 10 months we spent with coach Tab, the sacrifices, it was never easy,” said Nieto in Filipino Saturday during the team’s media session at Ateneo. “You can say that we were the ones who worked the hardest in the offseason.”

“Baler was the worst week, and ever since that camp we knew that we shouldn’t lose and giving up is never an option.”

Baldwin said he took the brutal approach from the legendary NCAA football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant when he led Texas A&M to the Southwest Conference title in 1954.

“It was built around the fact that it was very difficult for young men who are at the height of their physical prowess, all of whom have egos that are fed by loving parents, adoring girlfriends, adoring fans, victories along the way, and these egos need to be broken down and submitted to the whole purpose,” said Baldwin. 

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“The best way to break ego is to break the man, reduce the man to a state where he can’t do things on his own, that he requires the assistance of others in order to accomplish something.”

This hardship allowed the 13-1 Blue Eagles to recover from two straight defeats, in the final game of the eliminations against De La Salle and in the Final Four against Far Eastern University, en route to the championship round.

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The Blue Eagles took the three-game series against the Green Archers 2-1 with the third game ending in a close 88-86 contest.

“I want you guys to know that the team showed its character after the loss to La Salle in the second round and that loss was actually a blessing in disguise,” said Nieto. “When FEU forced a do-or-die game, that was when we showed how united this team is.”

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TAGS: Ateneo Blue Eagles, Tab Baldwin, UAAP Season 80

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