After finals loss, Ateneo to work on living up to potential next season
MANILA, Philippines – After a season of surprising most people and exceeding expectations, the Ateneo Blue Eagles will get back to work. Their goal for next year is to hopefully be living up to their potential this time a year from now.
"Obviously, from the outcome of this team, the future looks very bright with the very bright group and significantly high accomplishments this year," said coach Tab Baldwin after Ateneo got swept by UAAP Season 79 champions DLSU Green Archers on Wednesday, December 7.
"But at the same time, if we don't come in next year thinking what our weaknesses are and what we have to improve, then we'll probably go backwards. The test is not to live up to this year, but the test is to live up to our potential."
Baldwin was pleased with how far his young team has come in his first year coaching the Blue Eagles, and he's sending each one of them into the holiday break with homework to accomplish in time for 2017.
"We'll have individual meetings with all the players and we'll discuss where their areas of weaknesses are. We'll send them away for the Christmas break with specific jobs to do in terms of developing themselves while they're on their own, and when they cone back, we'll tackle the physical side first," the former Gilas Pilipinas coach explained.
"Then we'll work on individual skills and knowledge of the game, and from that, we'll try to develop our players."
From the very beginning Baldwin emphasized "growing great players" that can win championships. This UAAP Finals loss pulled the curtain far back on this Ateneo team's under-development and lack of experience compared to the more veteran La Salle squad.
"We obviously haven't developed our players enough yet and that will be our goal always," said Baldwin.
"All the other things like having the fighting spirit of an Atenean, making the shots, developing the strengths and the physical attributes, and the athleticism, that's all a by-product of developing the players as they should be and the players dedicating themselves to try to reach their potential."
This batch of Blue Eagles will certainly be a force to reckon with in the near future with only Gboy Babilonia graduating this year. And Babilonia is confident as well he's leaving the team in good shape.
"The growth of this team was unmeasurable for this season," he said, cradling the team's first runner-up trophy outside the locker room.
"With me leaving I hope that we set the foundation for something greater from what we achieved this season."
Although already thinking ahead, Baldwin did not forget to give credit to La Salle for the character they showed in the hard-fought series.
"They were the best team all year long. They earned this championship," he said.
"I think a lot of people may have been saying that they were much better than they were performing, that's exceptionally unfair.
"They had to fight hard to win this championship and they showed a lot of character in doing that, and they deserve all the credit for that. I think what we did was to make it tough for them." – Rappler.com