MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo found itself on a losing streak in the Filoil EcoOil Preseason Cup but coach Tab Baldwin had much to say about the team’s shortcomings.
After finding themselves in a 0-5 rut, the Blue Eagles have bowed out of preseason title contention after succumbing to Adamson, 61-60, after Matthew Montebon’s game-winner.
Baldwin, however, is not pressing the panic button just yet, saying the team just has yet to find the proper groove of the game.
“We’re just not a good team yet. We haven’t had the opportunity prior to our Finals break which coincided with the start of the preseason. We haven’t had the priority to work on team basketball,” the veteran tactician explained.
“Right after the finals, we started playing games [right away], so we don’t really have the practiced time to emphasize systemic issues.”
Baldwin, of course, was referring to his almost brand new lineup.
Coming off their UAAP Season 85 championship in December, the Blue Eagles had to deal with the exodus of ace players in Dave Ildefonso, Ange Kouame and BJ Andrade.
With the idea of winning right away, Baldwin went to work on preseason games with his new lineup consisting of second-year guard Gab Gomez, Sean Quitevis, Kai Ballungay and rookies Joseph Obasa and LeBron Nieto.
Of course, some things that are rushed are never perfect.
“We’re trying to learn and grow through games, which is not ideal so bad results are somewhat to be expected but as I said, winning is a habit and losing is a habit and we don’t want to have a losing habit,” Baldwin admitted.
“We have to coach and play these games a little bit more to get results and motivation that the team gets from having success,” he added.
Despite not having the chance to snag the Filoil crown this year, Ateneo will still have a chance to assert its brand of dominance in Japan when it defends its World University Basketball Series title in August.
For the moment, though, the Blue Eagles will continue its Filoil preseason run when they face Centro Escolar University on Monday.
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