After painful loss to FEU, Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin searches for growth | Inquirer Sports

After painful loss to FEU, Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin searches for growth

/ 10:50 PM October 28, 2023

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. –MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — Despite absorbing a tough 62-59 loss to Far Eastern University behind L-Jay Gonzales’ game-winning triple at the buzzer, Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin remained gracious, stressing that the Blue Eagles still need to grow in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.

“Certainly congratulations go to Coach Denok [Miranda] and the entire FEU team. They pulled it out of the dead and they took advantage of the opportunities we gave them in the end. They got a great win for themselves and their program,” said Baldwin after the loss over the weekend.

“We have to first of all thank the Lord for humbling experiences. Sports can often be one of the great humblers. This one today for our team, coming off a big win, was very humbling.”


Ateneo fought back from a 57-47 disadvantage down the stretch as Mason Amos made a trey off a lucky bounce to tie the game at 59-all. However, Kai Ballungay committed a crucial turnover on his inbound pass, giving an opportunity for FEU to score with 3.9 seconds left.

Gonzales made an up-and-under move to elude taller defender Chris Koon and hit an off-balance one-hand shot from beyond the arc to complete a rare elimination round sweep of the Blue Eagles — the first time Baldwin got swept by a team since 2016.

But Baldwin insisted their late game lapses didn’t cost the Eagles the game.

“A lot of people will probably make a lot out of the endgame situations. That game was not won nor lost at the end of the game. That game was won by FEU by out-toughing us. 15 offensive rebounds, getting every loose ball, and just playing with a hunger that we didn’t match,” the Ateneo coach said. “That’s not acceptable for any of us, for the players, or for the coaches, and I think we should all be humbled by that.”


“The only thing I have to say about the endgame is L-Jay, twice now against us, has shown a veteran’s composure that we haven’t been able to show in these situations. We will obviously individually learn from those scenarios, but they’re not things that we will dwell on. I would much rather dwell on the fact that we weren’t competitive enough. If we have any hopes to have a respectable season this year, those are things we need to address,” he added.

Coming off a 99-89 win over rival University of the Philippines in overtime last Sunday, the Blue Eagles failed to carry their momentum as they dropped to a 4-4 record after their two-game winning streak was snapped by FEU.


“I go back to saying that this team has to grow. This team has to really understand scenarios as we are presented with them and I think we were tougher today than we were, but so was FEU,” Baldwin said. “There’s not anything formulaic about those scenarios. You’re presented with those all the time in sports. Big game wins, big game losses, fightbacks from tough losses, fighting against complacency and letdown after a big win, they’re real. You can’t put your hand on them, but they’re as real as anything.”

Ateneo will lick its wounds as it battles UP in their second-round duel on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum

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“It’s just another game, and it’s a game that we gotta play to win. We’re sitting at 4-4 now. We can’t afford to be dropping games, not if we want to be in the top four at the end of the season. Losing today makes it tougher,” Baldwin said. “Nobody needs to hype this game either for UP or Ateneo, it stands on its own merits, it’s gonna be a big crowd, it’s gonna be a tough game, and we hope we show up and play our role.”

TAGS: Ateneo Blue Eagles, Tab Baldwin, UAAP Season 86

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