Tab Baldwin lauds improving Joseph Obasa ahead of UAAP Season 86
MANILA, Philippines—The departure of Ange Kouame is a huge hit for Ateneo but it can all be fixed depending on how Joseph Obasa plays for the Blue Eagles next season.
Obasa, a 6-foot-10 bruiser, is expected to fill the shoes of Kouame, who became a household name for Ateneans with his efforts that brought Loyola Heights three titles during his stay.
“Obviously, he’s a key component to our team. He has big shoes to fill with Ange but he willingly accepts that,” coach Tab Baldwin said after the squad’s 73-56 win over University of the East in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup at San Juan Arena on Wednesday.
“Joe just needs games. He’s a veteran person, [who is] 24 or 25 now, he’ll only have one year with us but he really lacks game time for now.”
Obasa had a double-double in the victory with 14 points and 10 rebounds as Ateneo improved to a 2-5 record.
During the preseason, Obasa is posting norms of just 6.7 markers and 6.0 boards per game, something Baldwin is not too worried about.
“He is extremely intelligent but he lacks good grounding in the game of basketball so there’s still a big learning curve for him. Fortunately, he has the attributes of being coachable and intelligent,” Baldwin said.
Right now, it is not looking like Obasa would reach the ceiling that Kouame once had as a Blue Eagle but the big man can make significant contributions for Ateneo in a one-and-done season.
Obasa was also Kouame’s replacement during Ateneo’s championship-winning run during the World University Basketball Series (WUBS) last year in Japan.
“[He has a] long way to go and a short time to get there but if anybody can do it, Joe is the person to get there,” Baldwin also said.