UAAP: Why Tab Baldwin wants La Salle to 're-achieve their greatness'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 19 2020 02:00 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin is hopeful that the school's archrival De La Salle University will quickly regain its championship form when the collegiate basketball season tips off.

Baldwin acknowledges that the sentiment "sound(s) funny" coming from him, as he coaches the Blue Eagles. For the coach, however, the UAAP is better off if the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry is on more even terms.

"I think that rivalries are what the fans love the most," Baldwin said on Nikko Ramos' Call to Arms podcast. "And the more times where we can have the crowd in there that's ready to blow the top off Araneta or MOA, the better for our league."

"We don't want the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry to be diminished because one team becomes too dominant," he added.

"That may sound funny coming from me but I'm really pulling for La Salle to rise and re-achieve their greatness."

La Salle has missed the Final 4 for the past two UAAP seasons, and its last victory over Ateneo came in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 80 Finals. Since then, the Green Archers have struggled to live up to their usual standard.

In Season 82, they had a 7-7 win-loss record, losing both of their games against Ateneo. They finished the tournament in fifth place. After the season, the school announced that it was hiring Derrick Pumaren as its new head coach.

Ateneo, meanwhile, rolled to a sweep of the elimination round before eventually defeating University of Santo Tomas in the finals for their third straight men's basketball championship.

As much as he takes pride in their dominance, Baldwin also knows that the UAAP will be better off when the rivalries among teams are more competitive.

"I think the UAAP to some degree, part of its success, is based on the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry, and it's really special and I've seen a lot of rivalries in my career," he said. "It's a really special one."

"I think that it's great that the Ateneo-UP rivalry has emerged, and there's nothing wrong with having multiple rivalries in the league. In fact, the more you have, the better," he added.

Thus, aside from wanting La Salle to once again reach its previous heights, Baldwin also hopes that the University of the Philippines will continue to stay competitive, and that Far Eastern University will rebuild quickly after losing several key players to graduation.

The multi-titled mentor wants for all of the teams to be competitive, as this can only be good for Ateneo -- and for the league as a whole.

"I think every time we walk out on the floor and know that there's a knife at our throat, it makes it better. It makes it better for everybody," said Baldwin.

"I think we have to care for our league. We have to care for our product. And so, the better tha UST-Ateneo and Adamson-FEU rivalry is and whatever we can generate, the better those rivalries are, the better our league is and the more it's gonna demand of us," he added.

"That's what we're supposed to be. We're supposed to be elite performers at this level. So we should expect a lot to be demanded of us."

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