UAAP 82: Tab Baldwin says Ateneo 'hardest practicing team' he's coached

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 30, 2019 08:29 PM
Baldwin says Ateneo 'hardest practicing team' he's coached
(Photo by Arvin Lim)

Ateneo de Manila University has made school history, sweeping the elimination round of the UAAP 82 Men's Basketball Tournament after crushing the University of the Philippines, Wednesday at MOA Arena.

True to form, however, the Blue Eagles are taking no days off - even though they have automatically advanced into the Finals and their next game will be on November 16.

"Our job is far from done and, in fact, it's going to get harder. In fact, we practice tomorrow," head coach Tab Baldwin said, dryly as always, following their decimation of the Fighting Maroons, their fiercest foes in the last two years, by 22 points.

And for the players themselves, going right back to work is exactly the response they want to forward even after doing something that no other team from Katipunan has done before. "Ganun talaga. Kami mismo, gusto rin naming mag-ensayo talaga agad para we're ready come Game 1 of the Finals," team captain Mike Nieto said.

That kind of attitude is the basis for their mentor to heap the most powerful of praises upon them. "This is a team that has tremendous amount of heart. What determines heart - the sacrifices these guys have made," he said.

He then continued, "This is the hardest practicing team that I've coached in 40 years."

Before Ateneo, Coach Tab had coached several national teams, including Gilas Pilipinas, as well as multiple professional squads.

And yet, it's the Blue Eagles who have staked claim as the most hardworking. "That doesn't come because you're robotic guys that just do what you're told. It's driven by an unbelievable sense of determination, passion, and belief in one another and I think that's what equates with heart," their mentor said.

For Nieto, though, that is just a reflection on the work ethic of Coach Tab. "Under him, we're just blessed. Siguro, totoo nga yun kasi pagdating sa players under Coach Tab, we just want to be the best," he shared.

He then continued, "It starts every after game na the day after, we go to video session and it lasts for three hours pa nga. Kailangan matuto kami dun para next game, 'di na namin uulitin. Eto na nga yung naging resulta ng lahat yun."

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