MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo may have finished off Adamson with a statement opening-day win, but head coach Tab Baldwin said the Blue Eagles had to deal with a new Falcons' threat – Fil-Peruvian guard Valandre Chauca.
While the Blue Eagles had their guards up on sharpshooter Jerrick Ahanmisi, the former Enderun forward surprised them with a team-high 17 points off a 3-of-6 clip from beyond the arc to go with 4 assists.
"I thought we did a really good job on Jerrick, not letting him get free. And now we gotta deal with this Valandre Chauca kid and he's really tough," said Baldwin.
After the two-time defending champions pumped up their lead to 22 points midway in the 3rd quarter, the Falcons managed to bring the deficit down to 9 in a blistering run capped by Chauca's triple, 39-48.
So it's no surprise that Chauca earned praises from Baldwin for challenging his best defensive players.
"But you know, he's just a good player, he's shifty, and he's not easy to, you know, get a handle on," said Baldwin. "And when you've got (Gian Mamuyac) and Matt (Nieto) and Thirdy (Ravena) out there defensively and they're still having a hard time with him, you know that says a lot about the kid."
When Adamson burst out with a 19-2 run in the 4th, the champion mentor also revealed he had war flashbacks of their opening-game upset loss to the Falcons last season.
As the Blue Eagles' shooting clip wound up subpar at 36% from the field, the former Gilas head coach looks to sharpen the squad in time for their blockbuster match against La Salle on Sunday, September 8, at the Araneta Coliseum.
"I expect more from the players, more composure, more professionalism. And I think if we had calmed our mind a little bit, perhaps we would have been a bit better on the offensive thing," said Baldwin.
"And our defense can now learn from that, we can break down the video, we can say this is where we failed in our principles and this is where we're going to have to improve against La Salle and get better." – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.