Tab Baldwin faces difficulty as Ateneo roster reckoning looms | Inquirer Sports

Tab Baldwin faces difficulty as Ateneo roster reckoning looms

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:15 AM August 13, 2023

Even the highly-toutedJoseph Obasa (No. 25) will have to work hard to make the Ateneo cut. —WORLD UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL

Even the highly-touted Joseph Obasa (No. 25) will have to work hard to make the Ateneo cut. —WORLD UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL

TOKYO—The clock is ticking, and Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin is bracing himself for a very difficult moment—one that he hates and comes once every year.

“I’m going to make a couple of very painful cuts,” the coach told the Inquirer Friday night, moments after the Blue Eagles got their World University Basketball Series title defense going with an 88-50 destruction of University of Sydney at Yoyogi National Stadium gym here.


He was referring to that time of year when he and his staff will deliberate on who will make their 16-man lineup for Season 86 of the UAAP, which is just over a month away and where Ateneo is seeking a repeat for what would be its sixth championship in the last seven seasons under Baldwin.


“These are all good kids, hardworking kids,” he went on.

A total of 19 players made the trip here, including Sean Quitevis, a guard who injured his right knee in Davao last weekend.

All of them are battling for roster spots and Baldwin refuses to say who the shoo-ins are.

“There are no shoo-ins on this team,” he said. “Everyone has to work for their spot and I hate players who don’t work hard.”

Ateneo's Kai Ballungay. –MARLO CUETO/

Ateneo’s Kai Ballungay. –MARLO CUETO/

Ateneo is loaded on all fronts, with coaching staff having the luxury of a triple tower combined with Geo Chiu, Kai Ballungay and Joseph Obasa. Its guards are also stacked with Gab Gomez, MJ Nieto, Jared Brown and an option to play the 6-foot-5 Chris Koon at the point.

The forward line also looks formidable with Andrew Bongo, Josh Lazaro, Jason Credo, rookie Shawn Tuano and the beefy Mason Amos, who saw action for the Gilas youth and men’s teams before.


Every team in the UAAP will be seeking to shoot down the Eagles once the season opens, making Baldwin’s painstaking decision a difficult one.

“We have to give each and everyone of these kids the chance to prove themselves, especially those who know that they are on the bubble,” he said. “The kids on the bubble know where they’re at.”

Has he ever gotten emotional telling any of his players before that they won’t make the team?

“I can’t; I just can’t be that way,” he said with a straight face. “But I definitely feel that way. But you have to do what you have to do. And that’s part of my job as a coach.”

Meanwhile, Hakuoh University chopped Ateneo down on Saturday night, using a no-prisoners-taken defense in scoring a 73-58 victory that dethroned the Blue Eagles in the World University Basketball Series tournament at Yoyogi National Stadium gym here.

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The Soldiers battle National Chengchi University of Taiwan for the title on Sunday.

TAGS: Ateneo, Tab Baldwin, World University Basketball Series

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