Ateneo’s collapse not a rookie problem, says Tab Baldwin
MANILA, Philippines – No, the world isn’t crashing down after one loss, says Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin.
Like a true coaching veteran, Baldwin is taking it all in stride after his wards lost a 70-74 stunner against the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Sunday, September 9.
However, the same could not be said for their rookies Angelo Kouame, William Navarro and SJ Belangel.
Belangel, especially, had a collegiate debut to forget after he finished his juniors’ career with a championship and a Mythical Five selection with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets.
In just barely two minutes on the court, the explosive two-way guard succumbed to Adamson’s full-court press defense twice and sparked a crucial 11-0 run for the Falcons.
As an emphatic punctuation mark, Adamson standout Jerrick Ahanmisi sank a go-ahead, buzzer-beating triple from half-court to end halftime with a 40-39 Adamson lead. From there, Ateneo never fully recovered.
Meanwhile, former San Beda upstart Navarro finished with 5 points and 6 rebounds with 3 turnovers. Ivorian tower Kouame managed just 1 point to pair his 11 boards and 4 blocks.
“I thought that some of our younger players played like deer in the headlights,” admitted Baldwin. “They needed to settle into the job a little quicker and I don’t think Adamson allowed them to. There was a little bit of blood on the water and they were the sharks. They really went after them and they were effective doing that.”
But at the same time, the UAAP champion coach said that there were problems overall, and not just from the younger side of the team.
“We know our younger players are good players,” he said. “We know that they will learn from that experience. They feel bad. They feel like maybe some of this is on their shoulders. I told them no, it’s not.”
“When we give up 14 offensive rebounds and 17 or 18 second-chance points in the second half, that’s got nothing to do with rookies,” he continued. “That’s got to do with effective defense and being in position to box out – all of which we failed to do. That isn’t a rookie issue.”
For now, Ateneo has a chance to bounce back in the Battle of Katipunan against the UP Fighting Maroons on Wednesday, September 12.
Surely, the Eagle rookies are wishing that day would come sooner. – Rappler.com
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