Tab Baldwin disappointed over Ateneo’s ‘inexcusable’ opening day showing
MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin lamented the lack of fight of his new-look defending champions after starting their title defense in the. UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.
The Blue Eagles couldn’t stop the National University Bulldogs, especially in the fourth quarter, and fell to a 77-64 opening day loss on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We are very disappointed with our performance. I think the words that mean so much to Ateneans, One Big Fight, the word fight was left out today and that is inexcusable,” Baldwin said after having a long talk with his team in the locker room.
Baldwin rued their 20-of-56 shooting and their defensive lapses as the Bulldogs shot 51% from the field and outrebounded them, 43-30.
“We didn’t do a good job contesting their threes and finding the guys that we knew were good shooters such as Patrick Yu and Steve Enriquez and you know, you gotta do these things against a good team. I think they really played with a good composure today, and we didn’t,” the Ateneo coach said.
“We didn’t execute our offense as well but really when you give up 51 percent shooting to your opposition, you get outrebounded as badly as we got outrebounded, you’re not gonna win. And we got beaten badly. And those are the numbers you can reflect on and of course, there’s a lot more beneath those numbers that we have to take a look at.”
Gilas cadet Mason Amos only had two points on 1-of-4 shooting in 17 minutes of action, while Joseph Obasa was limited to two points from the free throw line, but Baldwin remained patient with his prized recruits.
“I don’t care. They’re rookies. They put in rookie performances today. It’s inexcusable, but that’s what happens. So when you say a lot’s been expected from them, you better characterize who is expecting that and whether they should be worried about those people expecting. Because the expectation of us was they step up and do their job, which they did not do a good job of,” the Kiwi-American coach said.
“But that’s what rookies do. And it probably will happen again it just better not happen very often for the sake of our team.”
The four-time UAAP champion coach lauded NU coach Jeff Napa and the Bulldogs, whom he believed to be one of the tough teams to beat this season even before the tournament started.
“Credit to Jeff, credit to the NU team. I told everybody, that’s a veteran team. That’s a very very composed, solid basketball team and you’re gonna say they’re gonna be up there at the end of the season. We get another shot at them in the second round, but we have a lot of games to play before we get there,” Baldwin said.
“They had a great start. They did exactly what we knew they were capable of doing, they attacked the rim indiscriminately. We did a terrible job staying in front of our men and they got us in defensive rotations,” he added.
Baldwin and the Blue Eagles go back to the drawing board as they try to bounce back in their rivalry game against the De La Salle Green Archers on Wednesday, 6 p.m., at MOA Arena.
“We’ll prepare. We’ll do a game plan for La Salle. Hopefully, our players exhibit a little bit more pride and I think they will. I think I don’t like to use the word wake up call because we aren’t sleep, we just played badly,” the Ateneo coach said.