MANILA, Philippines – When some fans started comparing Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin’s champion Blue Eagles to Norman Black’s own batch of five-peat UAAP kings, the American-Kiwi mentor was the first to downplay it.
“First of all, back-to-back doesn’t look so important when you put it next to five in a row,” said Baldwin after his solid Blue Eagles side demolished the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the men’s basketball title series.
“It looks like a little bump on the road compared to that mountain that they did.”
Black cemented his legacy in Ateneo when he steered the Blue Eagles to 5 straight championships starting in 2008.
This season, the Blue Eagles’ title defense got off to a rough start when they absorbed a shocking loss to the Adamson Falcons right in the season opener. The Katipunan-based crew also closed out the first round with a loss to the Far Eastern University Tamaraws where they shot a season-worst 21% clip from the field.
But the Blue Eagles turned into an efficient machine by the second round and wound up unbeaten all the way to the Finals.
“We have a formula. We stick to our formula. That’s it,” said Baldwin. “I didn’t tell them anything different. We just tried to correct our mistakes and that goes for when we win games and when we lose games.”
But Baldwin also made sure that the Blue Eagles see beyond their title romp.
“We don’t give these guys a break. We’re not there to cheer for them, we’re not there to congratulate them, we’re there to help them be better,” said Baldwin.
“You know, a championship is one measure of excellence, I guess. So if that’s a by-product of the way that we do things, we hope that we continue to have championships in the future. Again that’s not the goal,” Baldwin added. “We talk more about how each one of these guys can be the best player they can be.” – Rappler.com