MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin admitted his “new crew” must develop as shortly as attainable in its UAAP title protection which begins Saturday at Mall of Asia Area.
Defending their championship with nearly a wholly totally different roster after the commencement of Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, and BJ Andrade and the sudden exit of Forthsky Padrigao, the four-time UAAP champion coach stays affected person with the progress of the Blue Eagles.
“This can be a new crew so this crew isn’t champion of something,” Baldwin advised reporters. “We observe and observe since January. We observe onerous and that’s the character of our preparation making an attempt to get these guys as a lot expertise as shortly as attainable.”
Baldwin will likely be pinning his hopes on holdovers Kai Ballungay, Chris Koon, Sean Quitevis, and Gab Gomez in addition to prized recruit Mason Amos, who performed for Gilas Pilipinas.
“In all probability a special crew from the start of the season to the top of the season. We’ve bought to develop and develop and mature rather a lot by means of our expertise of the primary spherical. Hopefully, we’ll come out of the primary spherical with sufficient wins to compete for a playoff slot by the top of the season,” Baldwin mentioned.
Baldwin mentioned it’s too early to evaluate his crew primarily based on their preseason tournaments within the FilOil EcoOil Cup and 2023 World University Basketball Series in Japan because the Eagles’ progress will likely be examined within the UAAP.
“I feel this can be a crew that may in all probability be characterised extra by progress than by expertise,” he mentioned. “They’re a crew that I hope is a high-quality basketball crew by the second spherical and is ready to compete within the increased ranges of the league. However first, we’ve gotta develop and we’ve bought to develop as we’ve bought loads of younger gamers.”
Ateneo kicks off its title drive towards final 12 months’s semifinalist Nationwide College, which Baldwin considers as one of many groups to beat this season.
“There will likely be surprises as there are yearly. I feel in all probability lots of people have been shocked that Adamson bought into the Remaining 4 final 12 months however by the top of the season, no one was shocked. They have been that good. NU was the identical, they have been that good. Whether or not individuals revered them at first of the season or not, that’s precisely why we play the season,” Baldwin mentioned. “I’m not gonna disrespect any of those coaches up right here and the work that they do. We go on the court docket to type it out.”