UAAP Finals: In showing character, UP earns Ateneo's respect

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Dec 06, 2018 03:22 PM
UAAP Finals: In showing character, UP earns Ateneo's respect
Coach Tab Baldwin has repeatedly said that UP was a "tough, tough opponent" for Ateneo

Ateneo de Manila University left no doubt in claiming back-to-back championships in the UAAP 81 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Following a convincing nine-point victory in Game 1, the Blue Eagles ran the University of the Philippines out of the Araneta Coliseum in Game 2 on Wednesday by a score of 99-81.

That 18-point win was more than enough for them to clinch their seventh title in the last 11 years.

Despite the dominant series sweep, the now two-time defending champions had nothing but good words for their fallen foes. “At the end of the day, yes, there’s only one champion, but there are only two teams that play the last game of the season. That means the one that doesn’t win still must’ve done a lot of things pretty well,” head coach Tab Baldwin told reporters post-game.

Indeed, while Ateneo was in complete control of the Finals, Fighting Maroons Bright Akhuetie, Paul Desiderio, and Juan Gomez de Liano kept coming at them.

In the eyes of coach Tab, that just showed the character they have discovered and then developed throughout the tournament. “When you look at their season, their season had a lot of character to it because they were a struggling team early on and looked out of sorts. It’s really difficult so you scratch your head all the time and say, ‘We got talent, we got some good players, how do we pull this thing together,’” he shared.

He then continued, “I don’t know what they did, but they sure got it together and they got these guys playing as a team, playing extremely hard, and they put together a great season.”

At the start of the second round, UP found itself at 3-5 and at the outside looking into the playoff picture.

From there, though, they went 7-1 to make a run to the Finals which was a pleasant surprise for just about everybody.

And though the Fighting Maroons had to settle for a runner-up finish, the Blue Eagles said they deserve nothing but respect for their magical season. “I think that you got to give credit to every single one of them. The coaches obviously did a good job and the players worked with the coaches so they deserve credit for that,” coach Tab said.

He then continued, “They were a really tough opponent for us.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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