MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin admitted University of the Philippines’ defense made the Blue Eagles “look disjointed” in crucial moments’ in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 84 men’s basketball Finals.
The defending champions were held scoreless by University of the Philippines’ defense in the last four minutes of overtime and fell on the brink of getting dethroned after losing, 81-74, on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“In the critical moments of the game we looked disjointed. We didn’t look cohesive. We were searching. UP certainly had the initiative with the defensive pressure, and didn’t allow us to settle, and we didn’t settle. So we made bad plays in regulation and in the overtime,” said Baldwin after the loss.
The Blue Eagles blew a 12-point spread late in the third quarter and a 68-60 advantage in the final 4:35 of the series opener as Zavier Lucero scored seven straight points before James Spencer’s triple that forced OT.
Baldwin lamented their late miscues as his team had 26 turnovers that gave away 26 points to UP. The Blue Eagles also shot poorly from the free throw line going 11-of-25 and allowed the Maroons to grab 29 offensive boards of their 51 rebounds.
“When I think more about that, you know the game was winnable in regulation, but I’m not really sure if you deserve to win when you allow your opposition 50% offensive rebounding percentage when you give them 26 turnovers,” he said. “It’s almost like you’re trying to lose when those numbers are present on the score sheet.”
Although it was a tough defeat that put its four-peat bid in peril, Baldwin believes his squad, led by Ange Kouame, has what it takes to turn things around.
“We intend to take our two days off and get this thing to a third game and you know, do the very best we can to win the championship,” Baldwin said. “We believe that we can turn this result around. It’s a three-game series for a reason.”
Ateneo tries to redeem itself on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
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