Coach Tab, Ate­neo: Pur­suit of ex­cel­lence

Business World - - World Sports - By Michael An­gelo S. Murillo Se­nior Reporter

THE Ate­neo Blue Ea­gles won their sec­ond straight Univer­sity Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines (UAAP) ti­tle af­ter com­plet­ing a sweep of Katipunan neigh­bors Univer­sity of the Philip­pines Fight­ing Ma­roons in their be­stof-three Sea­son 81 fi­nals se­ries on Wed­nes­day.

It was a cul­mi­na­tion of what was a dom­i­nant fin­ish to the sea­son by the Ea­gles, which saw them prac­ti­cally chan­nel the un­stop­pable, win­ning their last 10 games and be­ing head and shoul­ders above the com­pe­ti­tion.

Their 10th UAAP ti­tle all­time was also a di­rect re­sult of a con­scious ef­fort to live up to their full po­ten­tial col­lec­tively, the Ea­gles said, as well as their con­stant pur­suit of ex­cel­lence.

Greatly chal­lenge by the Ma­roons in the se­ries-opener last week­end, Ate­neo made sure there would not be a re­peat of such in Game Two, con­trol­ling the con­test from start to fin­ish en route to the dom­i­nant 99-81 vic­tory.

Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame were solid an­chors in the cham­pi­onship-clinch­ing vic­tory, prov­ing them­selves more than a hand­ful through­out.

Ravena had a game-high and ca­reer-high 38 points to go along with six re­bounds, six as­sists and three steals while rookie of the year Kouame had a mon­ster dou­ble-dou­ble of 22 points and 20 re­bounds.

For his solid out­ing in the fi­nals where he av­er­aged 29.5 points, eight re­bounds, 7.5 as­sists and 2.5 steals in two games, Ravena was hailed fi­nals most valu­able player.

“Coach Tab [Bald­win] just told us not to let-up dur­ing the game, not to be ca­sual. He em­pha­sized that we have to give our all in the last 40 min­utes, which was what we did,” said Ravena of the mind­set they had for Game Two.

“I did not ex­pect to score that much but the shots were go­ing in so I just fired them off,” he added on his hot shoot­ing in the ti­tle­clincher that had him go­ing for 13-of-18 from the field, in­clud­ing five-of-seven from be­yond the arc.

With the way they dom­i­nated the tour­na­ment this sea­son and how their bas­ket­ball pro­gram has been steady for the past few years, not a few are talk­ing of an Ate­neo dy­nasty rem­i­nis­cent of their five-peat from 2008 to 2012.

Mr. Bald­win said they are still a long way from that but reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to what has been the most im­por­tant for them — pur­su­ing ex­cel­lence each time.

“Back-to-back ti­tles don’t look so im­por­tant when you put it next to five in a row. It looks like a lit­tle bump on the road com­pared to that moun­tain they did,” Mr. Bald­win said, re­fer­ring to the Ate­neo teams that played un­der coach Nor­man Black

“We want to pur­sue ex­cel­lence and a cham­pi­onship, I guess, is one mea­sure of ex­cel­lence. We hope that we con­tinue to have cham­pi­onships in the fu­ture,” added the Ate­neo coach as he spoke with me­dia af­ter their lat­est ti­tle con­quest.

With 10 UAAP men’s ti­tles now, the Ea­gles moved to solo fourth place all-time, break­ing a tie with ri­vals De La Salle Green Archers who have nine.

Far East­ern Univer­sity is still the win­ningest in the UAAP with 21 cham­pi­onships, fol­lowed by Univer­sity of Santo To­mas and Univer­sity of the East with 18 apiece.


THE ATE­NEO BLUE EA­GLES are now 10-time cham­pi­ons in the UAAP.

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