Ateneo Blue Eagles World University Basketball Series

Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin provides directions to his gamers throughout a timeout towards Japan’s Hakuoh College on the World College Basketball Sequence in Tokyo, Japan. Picture from Musong Castillo/INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin admitted his “new group” must develop as shortly as doable in its UAAP title protection which begins Saturday at Mall of Asia Area.

Defending their championship with nearly a completely completely different roster after the commencement of Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, and BJ Andrade and the sudden exit of Forthsky Padrigao, the four-time UAAP champion coach stays affected person with the progress of the Blue Eagles.

“It is a new group so this group isn’t champion of something,” Baldwin advised reporters. “We observe and observe since January. We observe exhausting and that’s the character of our preparation making an attempt to get these guys as a lot expertise as shortly as doable.”

Baldwin might be pinning his hopes on holdovers Kai Ballungay, Chris Koon, Sean Quitevis, and Gab Gomez in addition to prized recruit Mason Amos, who performed for Gilas Pilipinas.

“Most likely a distinct group from the start of the season to the top of the season. We’ve obtained to develop and develop and mature lots via our expertise of the primary spherical. Hopefully, we’ll come out of the primary spherical with sufficient wins to compete for a playoff slot by the top of the season,” Baldwin mentioned.

Baldwin mentioned it’s too early to evaluate his group primarily based on their preseason tournaments within the FilOil EcoOil Cup and 2023 World College Basketball Sequence in Japan because the Eagles’ progress might be examined within the UAAP. 

“I feel this can be a group that may most likely be characterised extra by development than by expertise,” he mentioned. “They’re a group that I hope is a high-quality basketball group by the second spherical and is ready to compete within the larger ranges of the league. However first, we’ve gotta develop and we’ve obtained to develop as we’ve obtained a variety of younger gamers.”

Ateneo kicks off its title drive towards final 12 months’s semifinalist Nationwide College, which Baldwin considers as one of many groups to beat this season.

“There might be surprises as there are yearly. I feel most likely lots of people had been shocked that Adamson obtained into the Last 4 final 12 months however by the top of the season, no one was shocked. They had been that good. NU was the identical, they had been that good. Whether or not folks revered them at the start of the season or not, that’s precisely why we play the season,” Baldwin mentioned. “I’m not gonna disrespect any of those coaches up right here and the work that they do. We go on the court docket to type it out.”

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