Baldwin lauds Ateneo effort

Tab Baldwin lauded the performance of Ateneo de Manila University despite suffering a 93-102 loss to Bay Area Dragons in a friendly match late Saturday at the Moro Lorenzo Sport Complex.

Baldwin, the noted Kiwi-American mentor, said facing a very solid team like the Dragons gave them a chance to gauge their preparation for Season 85 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament this October.

With naturalized player Angelo Kouame back in action, the Blue Eagles fell to as many as 17 points in the second quarter

The lead ballooned to 22 points before the Blue Eagles put their acts together and made a sizzling rally to trim the deficit to within seven, 93-100, off BJ Andrade’s three-pointer with only 41 seconds remaining.

“We knew it would be tough. It was a really good workout for us. I’m happy to see our team compete until the end,” said Baldwin, who is tipped to go all out to reclaim the title they lost to powerhouse University of the Philippines last May.

Baldwin added that they may be coming off a championship conquest in Japan, but their lack of experience and chemistry doomed their chances against a veteran international team like the Dragons, who were powered by former National Basketball Association player Andrew Nicholson.

The Dragons are in town as they are set to see action as guest team in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup before campaigning in the East Asia Super League.

“We haven’t had many games. The competition in Japan was good, but not at this level. We have a lot of hopes both offensively and defensively. We need to be tougher competitively.”
Baldwin banked on Dave Ildefonso and Kouame, who played his first game since suffering a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear early this year.

Ildefonso fired 18 points and five rebounds while Kouame added a double-double performance of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Forthsky Padrigao was also impressive, chipping in 12 points, five rebounds, five assists and a steal for the Blue Eagles, who made history when it swept Season 84 before Covid pandemic hit the country in 2020.

“It was really a good game for us,” Dragon coach Brian Goorijan said, obviously impressed by the gallant stand shown by the Blue Eagles.

“We wanted to play a team that was physical, played real hard and played together.”

Nicholson, who played for three National Basketball Association teams for four years, fired 20 points, four rebounds and a steal while Myles Powell chipped in 16 points, six assists and three rebounds for the Hong Kong-based ballclub.


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