Like he was against Falcons, Brown will be key for Eagles versus Maroons | Inquirer Sports
UAAP FINAL FOUR

Like he was against Falcons, Brown will be key for Eagles versus Maroons

/ 05:20 AM November 24, 2023

Jaren Brown leads Ateneo Blue Eagles to the Final Four.

Jaren Brown leads Ateneo Blue Eagles to the Final Four. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Ateneo will be seeking to extend its defense of the UAAP men’s basketball crown on Saturday against the No. 1 University of the Philippines with a walking wounded guard rotation.

That’s why rookie Jared Brown, considering how he stepped up in the first of three KO matches the Blue Eagles need to survive to make it back to the finals, seems to be the main man at the point for coach Tab Baldwin when Game 1 of that series against the Fighting Maroons tips off.

“We’re a bit banged up right now,” Baldwin said when asked of the clash with UP, just minutes after the Eagles routed Adamson, 70-48, in a playoff for fourth-seeding in the Final Four on Wednesday. “You don’t know Chris (Koon) is playing on a bad foot, LeBron (Nieto) is limping and Gab Gomez has a broken hand.”

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And that’s something considering that Baldwin describes UP as “having the most professional group of guards that you’d ever hope to have” that works well with a talented frontline led by reigning Most Valuable Player Malick Diouf and the sensational Francis Lopez.

‘The underdogs’

“We’re definitely the underdog. I don’t relish it, [and] UP won’t take us lightly,” Baldwin said even as he heaped praises on Brown for setting the tone of the rout of the Soaring Falcons. “They (Maroons) are too professional, too intelligent and Gold [Monteverde] is a very clever guy.”

Brown, a lefty, finished with 20 points built around a four-for-seven clip from beyond three-point range with 14 of his total coming in the first two periods that had the Eagles running full throttle the rest of the way.

“I think I was just getting the shots. My teammates were just finding me the right spots, and it was my job to just knock them down,” said Brown, who bounced back from a mediocre effort against La Salle. “I needed to hit those today. So yeah, luckily they went in.”

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Seasoned UAAP rookie

Baldwin, though, believes that Brown, a transferee from Westmont where he was his school’s second-leading scorer with more than 15 a game, was due for a big game, considering how his 5-foot-10 sentinel has been working to help the team.

“He is a very humble guy. And he gives credit to his teammates and as he should. But at the end of the day, he’s got to knock the shot down, and today he got looks, and he was able to knock them down,” Baldwin said.

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“The kid works extremely hard on his shot. He brought a very good shot to the program,” said the four-time UAAP champion coach. “And he works hard on it every day. And everybody’s gonna have an off day. But, you know, more times than not, if he gets an open look, you can start writing crooked numbers on the score sheet.”

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TAGS: Ateneo, UAAP men’s basketball, University of the Philippines

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