Tab Baldwin: 'We didn't want U.P. in the Finals'
MANILA, Philipines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles may have won the first game of the best-of-three UAAP Finals series, but if head coach Tab Baldwin had a choice to choose an opponent for the title round, it wouldn't be the University of the Philippines (UP).
"We really didn’t want them in the final," Baldwin told reporters after the game.
"Now they’re a really, really tough opponent. [They're] much more determined, much more cohesive."
The Fighting Maroons have proved that they can match up to defending champion Ateneo when they were able to make it a one-point game at the end of the first half.
They also threatened the Blue Eagles with a total of 13 triples off a 46.43% clip from beyond the arc that allowed them to nab the lead in the second half.
"They understand their personnel, they understand how to create shots much better and they play for one another. It’s quite obvious. So that always makes a team tougher," added Baldwin.
"It’s something I think that probably coach Bo (Perasol of UP) was working on throughout the season and I think he’s got it pretty close to right."
It was only in the last 3 minutes of the game when the defending champions pulled away to a double-digit lead that sealed the win.
In the end, the American-Kiwi mentor was just disappointed in the Blue Eagles' defensive showing in Game 1 on Saturday, December 1, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"Again our defense just didn’t do its job and the physicality of the game, I think, was something we’re not used to," said Baldwin.
"I think that we failed to adjust throughout the course of the game. If it’s gonna be that way in the next game, if the cylinder the players are supposed to play in doesn’t mean anything, then we have to adjust to that."
It is back to the drawing board for Baldwin and the defending champions as they look to sweep the Fighting Maroons in Game 2 on Wednesday, December 5, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com