UAAP: Facing former team UST just another game for Kean Baclaan
MANILA, Philippines — Kean Baclaan kept his focus on leading National University amid facing his former team, University of Santo Tomas, in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament.
The rookie guard tallied a career-high 16 points, seven assists, and four steals to bring back the Bulldogs’ winning ways and haunt the Growling Tigers, 69-63, on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Baclaan, who suddenly took a U-turn from playing for UST in the preseason and instead enrolled at NU last August, treated his duel with the Growling Tigers as just another game.
“Talagang naglaro lang ako. Hindii ko iniisip na dati ko silang mga kasama. Talagang nag-focus lang ako kasi kailangan naming manalo,” said Baclaan shortly after the Bulldogs earned their second win in three matches.
(I just played my game. I didn’t think that they were my former teammates. My only focus is we need to win this game.)
Baclaan was determined to help his team bounce back from a whopping 77-60 loss to Ateneo last Wednesday, where he shot 3-of-15 with seven points.
“We really want to bounce back from our last game. We really played a bad game, failing to execute our game plan for that game. We forget about that Ateneo game and focused on this one,” said Baclaan in Filipino.
The La Salle Green Hills standout, who had better shooting, 5-of-12 from the field, followed his coach Jeff Napa’s advice not to look for his shots and just let it come through his game.
“As coach Jeff told me, I should not always think of always shooting the ball. I should not look for it and just let it come to me. I’m just happy that we got the win,” he said.
Although they bounced back, Napa stressed that they need to address a lot of things ahead of NU’s game against the defending champion University of the Philippines (3-0) on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We need to address the things we need to correct. Even we won today, it doesn’t mean a perfect game. We have to face these challenges to become one of the big boys. Although they’re young, I always tell them if they want to be one of the big boys, you have to prove that they deserve it. It’s hard but we have to work for it,” the NU coach said.