Tab Baldwin, Ateneo find success away from team ball
MANILA, Philippines–Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin isn’t afraid to veer away from team basketball if the end result produces precious hardware.
Baldwin’s Blue Eagles were able to sweep University of the Philippines in the UAAP Season 81 men’s basketball finals, but they needed to run something they didn’t usually do in the 99-81 clincher.
“I think we learned some things from Game 1, I think there were some things that were fairly apparent from UP which we made some adjustments to,” said Baldwin. “I think that’s why you saw a little bit of individual play, particularly, from Thirdy [Ravena], a little more isolation play.”
Ravena was a man on a mission for Ateneo finishing with 38 points, his career-high, six rebounds, and six assists, and all that one-man play was Baldwin’s ploy to defeat UP’s defensive schemes.
Baldwin did, to some extent, employ a similar tactic in Game 1 when he let Ravena dictate much of Ateneo’s offense in the first quarter of the Blue Eagles’ 88-79 Game 1 win last Saturday.
Ravena had 11 of his total 21 points in the first quarter and the Blue Eagles were able to build a 26-18 lead at that point.
Things got a little different in the middle quarters as Ateneo tried to go on a team-centric offensive approach with more players getting to touch the ball more instead of just one man dictating the tempo.
That change of pace allowed UP’s defensive sets to catch up its offense, allowing the Maroons to outscore Ateneo 43-37 in the second and third periods.
Ateneo, though, adjusted quickly and by the time the fourth quarter came Ravena and Matt Nieto were able to take over with the duo’s combined 15 points in the period just three shy of the whole UP production.
Baldwin said it was almost coincidental that Ravena, the man he tasked to take charge of his offense, had one offensive masterpiece against the Fighting Maroons in Game 2.
“I just think Thirdy had one of those games, you know a real special game,” said Baldwin of Ravena who shot 13-of-18 from the field, 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, and 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
“The ball was falling, he made great shots, he made great decisions, and he proved today that he was a special player. I know Thirdy well and I know that his joy right now is for the championship, for the team, and it’s one of the things that makes him and every other guy in the team special.”