A PERFECT season?
Ateneo’s quest for perfection comes down to one game today but coach Tab Baldwin still refuses to talk about that big possibility, insisting his squad’s mission is far from over against University of Santo Tomas.
“We have one game left. If we win it… And we just want to be 1-0. Whatever people want to say after that game is up to their perceptions of this team. We understand that this game is a chance to finish the season. And then we’ll let all of you talk about what you think about the team, what you think of whatever is related to our team,” said Baldwin, who is bidding to steer the team to a three-peat.
“Believe me, we just want to play this game well, play it really well. Win the game and whatever comes with that, comes with that. We don’t want our focus on anything else.
Especially any talk about records or anything like that. Let’s just play this game on Wednesday and do the best we can,” he added.
The Blue Eagles go for the coup de grace when they square off with the Growling Tigers anew today in Game 2 of their best-of-3 titular showdown for the 82nd UAAP basketball crown before an expected big crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The match is set at 4 p.m.
Ateneo is bidding to bag its 11th crown overall and eight in the last 12 years, while UST is out to forge sudden death. A winner-take-all game, if necessary, will be played on Saturday at the same venue.
Showing up sharp despite coming off a 16-day break after a 14-0 elimination round sweep, the Eagles manhandled the Tigers 91-77 in Game 1 last Nov. 16.
Graduating players Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, and Adrian Wong, SJ Belangel, William Navarro, and 6-foot-10 Angelo Kouame of Ivory Coast are expected to lead Ateneo’s charge.
Bloodied but unbowed, UST coach Aldin Ayo said they will come up with the needed adjustments in Game 2.
“(Playing in the) finals is a different atmosphere. But as I told you, we have to be patient.
Whatever it is, you can’t blame the players. Trabaho ng coaching staff to simulate things. Sa abot ng makakaya namin, we are going to do that,” said Ayo.
“Pero iyong players, they did everything that they could. Hindi lang talaga lumabas iyong laro nila. Sa ganitong situation, coaching ang may pananagutan diyan.”
The Tigers will rely on MVP Soulemane Chabi Yo, Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, Rhenz Abando, CJ Cansino, Brent Paraiso, and graduating veterans Renzo Subido and Zach Huang as they try to keep alive their title bid.