Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin offers directions to his gamers throughout a timeout in opposition to Japan’s Hakuoh College on the World College Basketball Sequence in Tokyo, Japan. Photograph from Musong Castillo/INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin admitted his “new crew” must develop as shortly as doable in its UAAP title protection which begins Saturday at Mall of Asia Enviornment.

Defending their championship with virtually a completely completely different roster after the commencement of Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, and BJ Andrade and the sudden exit of Forthsky Padrigao, the four-time UAAP champion coach stays affected person with the progress of the Blue Eagles.

“It is a new crew so this crew just isn’t champion of something,” Baldwin advised reporters. “We follow and follow since January. We follow laborious and that’s the character of our preparation attempting to get these guys as a lot expertise as shortly as doable.”

Baldwin will likely be pinning his hopes on holdovers Kai Ballungay, Chris Koon, Sean Quitevis, and Gab Gomez in addition to prized recruit Mason Amos, who performed for Gilas Pilipinas.

“In all probability a unique crew from the start of the season to the tip of the season. We’ve received to develop and develop and mature rather a lot by way of our expertise of the primary spherical. Hopefully, we’ll come out of the primary spherical with sufficient wins to compete for a playoff slot by the tip of the season,” Baldwin mentioned.

Baldwin mentioned it’s too early to evaluate his crew based mostly on their preseason tournaments within the FilOil EcoOil Cup and 2023 World College Basketball Sequence in Japan because the Eagles’ progress will likely be examined within the UAAP. 

“I believe it is a crew that can in all probability be characterised extra by development than by expertise,” he mentioned. “They’re a crew that I hope is a high-quality basketball crew by the second spherical and is ready to compete within the increased ranges of the league. However first, we’ve gotta develop and we’ve received to develop as we’ve received lots of younger gamers.”

Ateneo kicks off its title drive in opposition to final yr’s semifinalist Nationwide College, which Baldwin considers as one of many groups to beat this season.

“There will likely be surprises as there are yearly. I believe in all probability lots of people have been stunned that Adamson received into the Closing 4 final yr however by the tip of the season, no person was stunned. They have been that good. NU was the identical, they have been that good. Whether or not folks revered them at first of the season or not, that’s precisely why we play the season,” Baldwin mentioned. “I’m not gonna disrespect any of those coaches up right here and the work that they do. We go on the court docket to kind it out.”

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