MANILA, Philippines -- Tab Baldwin hopes that Ateneo de Manila University will be tested when they compete in the inaugural edition of the World University Basketball Series (WUBS) in Japan this August.
The Blue Eagles will represent the Philippines in the competition that also features Japan's Tokai University, the National Chengchi University of Taiwan, and Indonesia's Universitas Pelita Harapan.
Games are set from August 9 to 11 at the Yoyogi National Stadium Second Gymnasium in Shibuya, Tokyo.
"I think it looks like it's gonna be a strong tournament with high-level university teams," Baldwin said in a recent press conference, where Ateneo also introduced its latest recruit in Filipino-American point guard Paul Garcia.
Baldwin acknowledged that the "basketball system" in those other countries may be different from that in the Philippines, and so he is unsure as to the level of the other universities.
"They might have credentials, but actually the competitions from their countries wouldn't be very strong. So it's hard to say, but I suspect that some of the teams are gonna be very good," the coach said.
"That's what we're hoping. We're hoping for a very strong tournament," Baldwin added.
The WUBS is part of Ateneo's build-up for the UAAP Season 85 men's basketball tournament, where they are looking to regain the crown after falling to the University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 84 finals.
It will be a crucial step in integrating Baldwin's recruits into the team, including Garcia and the likes of Kai Ballungay and Andrew Bongo, who committed to the Blue Eagles last year.
"We want to get the requisite training for our team as we get closer to the UAAP. We need good games," said Baldwin.
Aside from the WUBS, Ateneo is also in discussions with organizers of the Filoil Ecooil Preseason Cup, which is expected to unfold this month after a three-year hiatus due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We're still in discussions with [FilOil organizers], given that we will be going outside the country," Ateneo team manager Epok Quimpo said. "We are looking to get the team into games."
"But like what Coach Tab said, there are preparations needed, and one of which is really the training outside the country," he added.