Ateneo flexes muscles vs fancied Aussie school      | Inquirer Sports

Ateneo flexes muscles vs fancied Aussie school     

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:10 AM August 12, 2023

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin (right) puts Ateneo through a hard practice day on Wednesday. —MUSONG R. CASTILLO

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin (right) puts Ateneo through a hard practice day. —MUSONG R. CASTILLO

TOKYO—Ateneo sent its next foe in the World University Basketball Series a stern warning by ripping fancied University of Sydney Friday night.

And with coach Tab Baldwin still playing around with his roster by keeping some key players in the freezer, Japan’s Hakuoh University will have some things to worry about when their knockout game comes Saturday.


With an unforgiving defense and three-point sniping in the middle two periods that defanged the Lions from Down Under, the Eagles gave a glimpse of how formidable they are even with Jared Brown and Josh Lazaro sitting out an 88-50 masterpiece seen by a good-sized Filipino crowd at Yoyogi National Stadium gym here.


“It’s the preseason and we need to do that,” Baldwin told the Inquirer after the game when asked why he didn’t play what could be his UAAP Season 86 team considering the hype surrounding the Australians. He also didn’t hide his disappointment at some of his players whom he felt didn’t play up to par despite the lopsided result.

“That’s coaching, a huge part of it,” Baldwin said. “Parts of the game I was happy, parts I wasn’t. Certain players played well and some didn’t do their jobs.

“Important thing is we won,” he said.

A hail of three-pointers in the second period had the Eagles racing to a 49-29 lead at the half, as the team responded to a tongue-lashing on the floor that Baldwin gave late in the first.

“Eight blow-bys! Eight!,” Baldwin hollered at his players on the floor and those on the bench.

Three-point shooting wasn’t the only first-half highlight for the Eagles, whose defense starved Sydney to 15 second-quarter points.


Early boot

There were also some sweet plays, one of them with Joseph Obasa finishing off with a two-handed slam off a Gab Gomez feed that gave Ateneo its first twin-digit lead, 31-21 heading into the final 6:52 of the period.

And then four triples in an 18-8 spurt to close the half happened, with Chris Koon tossing in two.

The onslaught didn’t end there with the Eagles pouring on the heat some more in the third, as Gomez opened the second half with a triple with Ballungay having one for a 64-34 lead with under four minutes left that was enough to take the fight out of the Aussies.

One champion team, meanwhile, got the boot early as National Chengchi University of Chinese Taipei eliminated the host country’s No. 1 team, Tokai University, 81-73.

The Griffins, runners-up to Ateneo last year, got 18 points and 12 rebounds from Mouhamed Mbaye and twin digits from two others in bundling out the Seagulls and setting a KO match with fancied Radford University of the United States.

A US NCAA Division 1 team, the Highlanders flexed their muscles in scoring a 100-63 demolition of Korea University.

NCCU and Radford battle Saturday at 3 p.m., before Ateneo and Hakuoh collide at 6:30 p.m. (5:30 in Manila).

“For sure it’s going to be a tougher game for us,” Baldwin said after seeing the Soldiers against the Indonesians.

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The winners of both semifinals will battle for the title Sunday.

TAGS: Ateneo, Basketball, World University Basketball Series

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