WINNERS. Ateneo coach Tab Balwin hopes his Blue Eagles stay on track after rediscovering their winning ways. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Even if the loss to Adamson has stained Ateneo’s UAAP Season 81 record, it will always serve as a reminder for the defending champion Blue Eagles to stay grounded and focus on "who they are" each game.
“I think I asked the team, maybe once or twice after the game the other day: 'Who are we? Is that who we wanna be?' Because that's who we prepared to be,” recalled head coach Tab Baldwin.
After clinching three preseason championships and representing the Philippines in the 2018 William Jones Cup, many expected the defending champions to sweep the season.
But Baldwin said the upset showed how much the Blue Eagles have strayed from what they have trained to be in the first place.
“When we give an answer like what we gave last week, then all of you people will label us losers. Rightfully so,” added the Kiwi mentor.
“When we give an answer like we gave today, we have a very good chance of you people labeling us as winners.”
The Blue Eagles bounced back against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in their second game of the season on Wednesday, September 12.
But it’s far from over for the Blue Eagles as they know each team wants to challenge the depth and talent of Baldwin’s squad.
“That's why it's harder to defend the championship than to win one,” admitted Thirdy Ravena.
“That's the challenge, and I think my team responded well, all my teammates played well, and yeah, gotta prepare for next game.”
Ateneo will face the Far Eastern University Tamaraws – their bitter semifinal rivals last season – on Saturday, September 15, at 2 pm, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com