MANILA — The Ateneo Blue Eagles fell short of automatically clinching a Final Four berth after their defeat on Saturday against their rivals De La Salle Green Archers.
Despite making numerous runs that even saw them get to as close as one, 66-65, late in the fourth quarter after a triple by Jared Brown, the defending champions were not able to overcome La Salle.
This, according to Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin, was a result of La Salle being able to impose their advantages over the Blue Eagles all thanks to how DLSU mentor Topex Robinson called the shots, especially during the payoff period.
“Topex is really a good coach,” said the former Gilas Pilipinas mentor.
“We know their play calls, I know their play calls, so we’re trying to get as many counters out there as we can. It’s a big challenge but it’s a lot of fun.”
“I really enjoy that element of coaching and Topex is a good one, he’s got a really good staff. Nash [Racela] is another good one. He’s playing the match-up game the whole game. It's fun but sometimes, you’re playing checkers and you wanna be playing chess cause your players just don’t have the experience,” he added.
Speaking of Racela, Ateneo is now waiting to see whether the Adamson Soaring Falcons can take care of their business on Sunday at 2 PM against the UE Red Warriors at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
An Adamson victory will put the San Marcelino-based squad at 7-7, meaning that they and the 7-7 Ateneo will slug it out to determine who will be the last squad to enter the Final Four.
If UE wins, AdU will be eliminated from postseason contention.
That is the reason why Tab Baldwin is the biggest UE fan right now.
“I hope we get in. That’s the biggest thing,” said Baldwin of their Final 4 dreams.
“I’m a big Jack Santiago fan right now. I’m gonna go home, put on my red underwear, and cheer for the Red Warriors until the game is over,” he quipped.
“But you know, we’ll see. We’ll see how it plays out. Adamson is really tough. They’re one of the toughest teams to contend with. We’ll see how the game goes.”
“I gotta do a little sport and go get the white and red pom poms, show up for halftime, and do cheerleading for the Red Warriors.”