‘Worst week of our lives’ was origin of Ateneo’s #BlueEaglesBandOfBrothers
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 09, 2017 06:39 PM
Coach Tab Baldwin ingrained in Ateneo that only with each other can they win
That has come up quite a few times after Ateneo de Manila University won its first championship in five years.
The Blue Eagles themselves have been repeating it over and over.
But what does it mean? “Blue Eagles Band of Brothers,” team captain Vince Tolentino told reporters before the Blue Eagles’ bonfire inside the campus on Saturday.
And there’s no convoluted explanation of how and why it came to be – the Ateneo Blue Eagles just consider one another as brothers.
That brotherhood was very much evident in their style of play which relied on total team effort.
Everybody from Thirdy Ravena to Gian Mamuyac, from Matt Nieto to Anton Asistio, and from Isaac Go to Chibueze Ikeh had a hand in their championship run.
And nothing – not even back-to-back MVP Ben Mbala, a failed sweep of the elimination round, or being pushed to the brink of elimination – was able to break that brotherhood.
According to the Ateneo players themselves, this is all because they have been through much worse – together. “Yung sacrifices, ‘di madali. Siguro, kami yung team na pinaka nagtrabaho mung offseason,” co-captain Mike Nieto shared.
He then continued, “Baler was the worst week of our lives, but ever since nung camp na yun, ‘di na kami nagpatalo.”
The Blue Eagles went to Baler, Aurora for training camp in April of this year.
What happened there is not to be shared. “The specifics aren’t important. We have a pact that we won’t say the specifics,” coach Tab Baldwin said.
What matter for Baldwin and his fellow coaches is that all of them did what they were supposed to do then. “The best way to break the ego is to break the man – reduce the man to where he can’t do things on his own and needs assistance from everybody,” he said.
He then continued, “So we designed physical and mental tasks to break them and let them look at one another that it’s (only) through my teammates that I can accomplish something.”
Without a doubt, that Baler training camp was mission accomplished as Ateneo rode the total team effort established there all the way to the title. “They went through a lot together and all of it was part of the process to help the team. This group lived up to the word team,” the mentor said.
And that Baler training camp was also where the Blue Eagles began to believe in their selves and, more importantly, one other. “Baler is where we first began everything – staying as one team. We were tested throughout the season, but staying with #BEBOB, we didn’t break,” Tolentino said.
He then continued, “No one can break this group of guys because we have each other and the Ateneo community is behind us.”
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