Baldwin: Ateneo’s season going to be a roller coaster ride
MANILA, Philippines – For as good as the Ateneo Blue Eagles played in the fourth quarter of their last game - a season-opening win against the UST Growling Tigers - it was the opposite in the third period of their loss to the National University Bulldogs on Sunday, September 11.
Entering the half with the game tied at 32, Ateneo came out flat to open the third quarter. Turnovers, bad defense, and missed shots led to a 20-9 period in favor of the Bulldogs, who stayed on top the rest of the way to begin UAAP Season 79 with a 2-0 record.
“Our defense didn’t do it’s job. The offense actually generated some good shots; we just didn’t make them, and as I said, we’re going to be an up and down team offensively this year,” said Ateneo consultant Tab Baldwin after the contest.
“I don’t expect us to be an explosive offensive team, that’s why we cannot have lapses defensively, and that’s what we did in the third quarter.”
Ateneo allowed NU to shoot 41% from the field and sent the Bulldogs to the line for 25 free throws. In comparison, the Blue Eagles hit only 36% from the floor, went 6-of-12 from the foul stripe, and were also out-rebounded 46-39.
“Big issue for us,” Baldwin, the head coach of Gilas-Pilipinas, said about the battle of the glass, which figures to be a big issue for the team even moving forward. “We’re not big, we’re very young, we’ve got to learn to be aggressive without fouling, and it’s a process.”
Thirdy Ravena and Aaron Black, Ateneo’s top two scorers in its last game, combined for only 6 points on 3-of-16 shooting on Sunday. Only one player scored in double-figures for the Blue Eagles - Mike Nieto, who had 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Baldwin, however, was still particularly pleased with the offense his team showed. The issue to him was that shots were just not falling in.
“We’re going to face a bunch of teams that are good teams and we’ve got to run offense to create good shots. Whether we make them or not is another story. As I said, start of the third quarter, we generated some good shots, we just didn’t make them,” he said.
“We have to keep doing that. Shots will fall. Eventually more and more will fall as these young kids get more comfortable with the league and what they’re doing, but initially, we don’t really have a go-to guy, so our offense has to work for us and we have to make shots.”
The true problem for him was on the other end, where 4 players for NU scored in double-figures. Rev Diputado finished with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Matt Salem scored 12 points and hit a trio of 3-pointers. Alfred Aroga and Reggie Morido scored 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“Where we don’t have any excuses is the defensive end and rebounding the ball. We’ve got to learn how to apply the right sort of aggression according to the UAAP rules and refs and interpretations,” said Baldwin, whose team will face defending champion FEU next.
“Stay out of foul trouble, and it is a process,” he emphasized. “I think this team is going to learn - they’re going to learn fast, they’re going to have to learn fast - but, [as] I said from the very, very beginning and I’ll continue saying it: I think this is going to be a roller coaster ride this year.” – Rappler.com