Baldwin lauds La Salle for turning things around with pressure defense | Sports, News,


MANILA, Philippines — You just have to laud De La Salle’s defense, according to Ateneo de Manila head coach Tab Baldwin.

Following a 92-83 Game Two loss over archrival Green Archers in the 80th UAAP men’s basketball finals, the Blue Eagles mentor went on to credit their foe and Aldin Ayo’s handiwork: erasing a massive 21-point lead.

“Credit La Salle’s defense. Credit the changes coach Ayo made. He went big that didn’t work. He went small that began to work,” Baldwin said shortly after the game.

“[Ayo’s] pressure defense then started to take the toll (on my team) and momentum swung. We just… didn’t play as well once the momentum swung,” he rued.

The Eagles, who registered 32 big points in the first period, were clamped down to just 27 in both the second and the third cantos. The third quarter saw the Ateneans chalk up only eight points as opposed to the La Sallians’ 26.

“Big leads just seem to drain and momentum swings the other way. And it’s always tough to swing momentum back,” Baldwin shared. “We suffered from that today and La Salle did a great job of finding their feet after we had a great start.”

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“Once they found their feet, we lost ours. And we couldn’t really have it back,” the veteran international coach offered.

Ateneo was able to equal La Salle’s firepower in the final frame behind Aaron Black and Thirdy Raven, but the fiery run in the third — led by Andrei Caracut and Ricci Rivero — proved to haunt them back as the final buzzer rang.

Asked if it was his wards’ youth finally catching up, Baldwin was quite unsure.

“I’m not so sure it’s youth as much as it is I think La Salle’s championship experience showed. And our lack of it may have showed,” he said. “Not sure whether that’s youth or just being in the cauldron of championship games and learning and understanding what it requires of you when the pressure comes on.”

“(The Archers) were better today when the pressure really came on,” he closed.

Baldwin and the Eagles have until Sunday to figure out a counterattack.

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