UAAP Season 82 Finals: Teams that Aldin coaches, they don’t ever back down – Baldwin
Mark Escarlote on Nov 16, 2019 09:08 PM
The one thing that we’ve been talking about since we knew UST was our opponent was that teams that Aldin (Ayo) coaches they don’t ever quit, they don’t ever back down -- Tab Baldwin (Photo by Arvin Lim)
Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin knew very well what to expect when University of Sto. Tomas clinched the remaining Finals berth in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament.
He expected the Blue Eagles to face a big challenge.
“The one thing that we’ve been talking about since we knew UST was our opponent was that teams that Aldin (Ayo) coaches they don’t ever quit, they don’t ever back down,” said Baldwin, who is on his third championship series face-off against an Ayo-mentored team in the last four years.
Baldwin knew Ayo very well with his rival tactician winning a title against him in Season 79 in 2016 while calling the shots for De La Salle University. The two battled for the crown the following year with Baldwin delivering the first of Ateneo’s back-to-back championships.
The final score may signify a dominating win for the still unbeaten grand slam-seeking Blue Eagles, 91-77, in Game 1 of the best-of-three series on Saturday but the way UST pushed the Blue Eagles made Baldwin respect Ayo and his no. 4 seeded Growling Tigers even more.
“I think UST was so persistent. You saw that. You saw how hard they keep coming at us,” said Baldwin, whose wards won their 15th straight game of the season to inch a closer to a historic 16-game season sweep.
In fact, the Growling Tigers behind Mark Nonoy, who had 26 markers, gave Ateneo quite a scare when UST cut a 19-point deficit to only three, 38-41, off his triple with 2:25 left in the second quarter.
But the Blue Eagles’ firepower proved too much for the Espana-based squad.
“It was a hard game. The energy was pretty extraordinary out there by both teams,” said Baldwin. “Mark Nonoy is obviously a problem for us not them. He played a tremendous game. He ran himself right into the ground. He was dead at the end of the game. That’s very courageous. I have a lot of respect for that.”
“Our team has a lot of respect for all of their players and their coaching staff,” he added.
Proving yet again that he was right about how Ayo build his team’s character, Baldwin expects nothing but another explosive fight from the Growling Tigers in Game 2.
“We know we are in for another tough game on Wednesday,” he said.
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