MANILA, Philippines—The Ateneo Blue Eagles can etch their name in the UAAP history books on Wednesday, should they defeat University of Santo Tomas in Game 2 of the Season 82 finals.
Fresh off a 16-day break, the Blue Eagles clobbered the Growling Tigers, 91-77, to take Game 1 of the best-of-3 titles series on Saturday and close in on their third men's basketball title.
The impressive victory extended their winning streak this season to 15 games. And if they beat UST again Wednesday, the Blue Eagles will become the first team in UAAP history to go 16-0 in a single campaign.
Predictably, that achievement is not even on the mind of Ateneo's pragmatic head coach, Tab Baldwin.
"We just want to be 1-0 from here," he told reporters after the game.
"We don't really care what's going on in the past," Baldwin added. "Each of those games was won because we took those games seriously and tried to play our best game in that game."
"We have one game left, if we win it, and we just want to be 1-0."
As expected, Baldwin's mindset was immediately adopted by his players, who all echoed their head coach's sentiment. Gian Mamuyac, who scored 9 points in their win, said they will head into Game 2 thinking that the series was still at 0-0.
"People are talking about writing our names in the history books. But we just want to do our jobs in the next game, and it's just the next game," he said.
Thirdy Ravena, who fired a season-high 32 points in the win, also pointed out that nothing will come easy for them. Though Ateneo won comfortably, UST gave the Blue Eagles all they could handle with point guard Mark Nonoy torching their defenders for 26 points.
"Hindi naman ibibigay ng UST sa amin 'yun, alam namin 'yun. We have to make sure na gawin namin ang trabaho namin as players sa practice," Ravena said.
Should they pull off the feat on Wednesday, Baldwin said it will be up to pundits to discuss Ateneo's place in history and to debate on where they rank among the great collegiate teams in the country.
The Blue Eagles, however, remain focused on the task at hand.
"We just want to play this game on Wednesday well, play it really well," said Baldwin. "Win the game, and whatever comes with that, comes with that."
"We don't want our focus on anything else, especially any talk about records or anything like that. Let's just play this game on Wednesday, and do the best we can," he said.
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