Far from done
Even after a dominant victory in the championship series opener, Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin insists his Blue Eagles still have their work cut out for them if they want to complete the first ever 16-game season sweep in UAAP history.
The Blue Eagles’ swarming defense and fluid offense proved too much for the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers as they ran away with a 91-77 triumph on Saturday, setting the stage for a possible coronation in Game 2 on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
But Baldwin, who has over 40 years of coaching in all levels under his belt, quickly tempered the excitement, stressing that Game 1 was only “the first half of basketball and we just get a long halftime break.”
“We get to prepare for the second half, which will be in your eyes, Game 2,” said Baldwin. “That’s a lot to work on. I think UST was so persistent. You saw that. You saw how hard they keep coming at us.”
Although they limited UST gunners Renzo Subido, Rhenz Abando and CJ Cansino below their usual scoring outputs, Baldwin remained concerned at the way the Tigers were able to quickly get points on the board in the second half.
Ateneo held UST to just 38 percent shooting. The Tigers did make 14 treys, but they needed 41 attempts to reach the mark. In contrast, the Eagles shot a remarkable 62 percent and had 23 points in transition. Ateneo also held a 45-39 rebounding edge.
“We need to play better defense to be the team that we want to be,” added the Kiwi-American coach, who had praised UST playmaker Mark Nonoy for his career performance in the Game 1 defeat.
Even Thirdy Ravena, who topscored with 32 points for the Eagles, acknowledged the need to improve defensively for Ateneo to wrap up the title.
“We had too many lapses in the second half that’s why they were able to score,” said Ravena, who shot 14-of-18 from the field.
“We just have to do a better job locking those guys up. We have to make sure that we don’t allow their tendencies. The business is not done. We can’t celebrate. We can’t feel happy although there were a lot of things we did great. Our coaches are going to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes in Game 2.”
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