PBA D-League: Ateneo coach Baldwin looks to expand Isaac Go's skill set

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2019 06:36 PM

Isaac Go puts up a lay-up against Go for Gold-CSB. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- With an eye towards the international game, the Ateneo de Manila University coaching staff is looking to expand and improve the skill set of big man Isaac Go.

Go is already known for his ability to space the floor as a big man, memorably hitting the championship-clinching three-pointer against De La Salle University in Season 80. His numbers -- and his moments -- took a dip in Season 81 with the emergence of Ange Kouame, but during the ensuing offseason, Go has been showcasing his skills.

He shot the lights out for Ateneo in their PCCL National Championship semifinal series against San Beda University, and on Thursday, he torched Go for Gold-CSB for 21 points when the Blue Eagles made their debut in the 2019 PBA D-League.

Go shot 7-of-11 from the field, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, as the Blue Eagles overwhelmed the Scratchers, 103-75.

Cignal-Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin was not the least bit surprised at Go's performance.

"He's gonna shoot the ball better this year I think," he said.

But improved shooting is just the tip of the iceberg for Go, as the Ateneo coaching staff seeks to expand his skill set in the hopes of one day seeing him play at the international level -- as a power forward.

"We're working on his inside game, we're working on his ability to put it on the floor. We want him to be an international 4-man," Baldwin revealed.

"He's got a long way to go -- he's got a lot of mobility and agility to work on. He's gotta get better defending the perimeter, he's gotta get better putting the ball down on the perimeter," he added. "But he can shoot the ball, and that's a good asset for us."

"But there's more to his game that we have to work on and develop."

Go, for his part, embraces the task that his coach set for him. He is the first to acknowledge that despite his height, he has his limitations athletically, which will hamper him in the next level of basketball.

"A 6-foot-8 center isn't really gonna perform well unless you're really athletic, really strong," he pointed out. "And of course, going up against 7-footers, it's not a good idea."

Moreover, there are plenty of centers in the Philippines taller than Go -- he listed June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar, and even teenager Kai Sotto among them. Thus, if he wants to play for the Philippines someday, he will have to do so from another position rather than the five-spot.

Fortunately, Kouame's arrival in Ateneo has hastened his development as a "four-man." 

"I think that was the goal ever since, but I think it's being sped up now, because we have Ange playing the five," he said. "That gives me a lot more time to play at the four." 

"And I think there's always been a part of me that will play the four, because we knew that eventually, me going up against 7-footers is not ideal."

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