By Waylon Galvez
Talks of another Ateneo dynasty began to swirl around moments after the Ateneo Eagles won their second straight UAAP basketball title in a big way.
An impressive 99-81 win in Game 2 Wednesday night gave the Blue Eagles their 10th overall championship, a feat that raised the possibility of winning a few more similar to the school’s remarkable five-peat from 2008 to 2012 under head coach Norman Black.
Ateneo mentor Tab Baldwin, however, is less concerned about it.
What it important for him is for his players to embrace the philosophy that he has been preaching – try and try to succeed.
“First of, back-to-back doesn’t look so important when you put it next to five in a row,” said Baldwin. “It’s like a little bump in the road, compared to that mountain that they did.”
“We want to pursue excellence. A championship is one measure of excellence I guess. If that’s the byproduct of the way that we do things, then we hope that we can continue to have championships in the future.”
“But again, that’s not the goal, that’s not what we set out to do,” said Baldwin.
For him, the most important thing is to develop players, and one good example is graduating guard Anton Asistio, who played his first two seasons with the Eagles but on his third year he was relegated to Team B.
Asistio worked his way back to the senior’s roster even as Baldwin, who joined Ateneo in 2016, doesn’t like the style of play of the 5-foot-10 guard, but proved him wrong when he helped the team win two titles as the Eagles’ starting playmaker.
“We talk more about how each one of these guys can be the best players that they can be. But as long as one of the byproducts continues to be championships, and I don’t think MVP is going to tell us to do it differently,” said Baldwin, referring to the team’s top benefactor Manny V. Pangilinan.