UAAP: Chris Koon’s struggles a learning experience, says Tab Baldwin
MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin keeps his faith in Chris Koon and the Blue Eagles despite their struggles after a loss to the University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Chris Koon was hardly a factor for the Blue Eagles in their second-round duel against the Fighting Maroons as he went scoreless, missing all of his 10 shots. He finished with five rebounds and four assists.
Baldwin admitted it was a bad game for Koon, who averaged 12.1 points in the first round, but he believes that the veteran winger will learn from this experience.
“Chris really didn’t make good decisions. He was really probably overamped to play this game but you know, it’s something Chris will learn from. That composure from big games. He’s played big games and big moments for us so far,” said Baldwin after a 65-60 defeat.
“But I think today, the defense was very good for UP and I think he just forced it a little too much trying to make plays, especially when our offense kinda broke down. He’s one of the guys we go to try and make plays. It wasn’t just you know him trying to take over. It’s the time he puts in that position in bad possessions and he tries to make play at the end of the possession. We gotta be better and he’ll be better,” he added.
Jared Brown played his best UAAP game yet with 18 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting but Baldwin bared that his rookie admitted that he should have attempted a triple when UP was leading 63-60 in their final possession instead of a pick n’ roll play with Joseph Obasa, who missed the floater.
“We all know he should have isolated Malick and tried to shoot a three. He was the first one to say that after that scenario,” said Baldwin. “And if you guys ever played in front of 20,000 people in a must-win situation and you’re gonna make a smart decision in the last possession.”
But it was all part of Ateneo’s growth parading a new-look roster in defending its crown this season.
“It’s not easy. It’s freaking difficult. But you learn. You learn. They all learn and we certainly talked about that,” he said.
Baldwin also said UP exploited Ateneo’s lack of chemistry as they slid to a 4-5 record with its second straight loss tied with Adamson in fourth seed.
“I think the biggest weakness of our team is that they don’t have a playing chemistry and you know, playing chemistry is not just like “we like to play together”. It’s having a collective understanding of where are your efficiencies. Everybody knows anything about chemistry, you can’t create a good formula, you have to get the right elements working together in the right way. And that’s what chemistry in a basketball team needs,” he said. ‘That’s a work in progress for us, for these guys.”
Although they fell short, Baldwin remained proud of his wards’ late-game effort and emphasized the importance of their last five games starting on Saturday next week against the No.2 National University at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Blue Eagles have a week to prepare for the final stretch of the season.