A great payment for their service to the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
Nothing could have made the final game of Chibueze Ikeh and Vince Tolentino any sweeter than a victory against the De La Salle Green Archers in Game 3 of the UAAP Finals.
They just wanted to exact revenge on their crushing Game 2 loss, which saw them give away a 21-point advantage and a delayed chance to win the championship.
Recovering from such a brutal fall was a monumental task, but it was a task they were willing to accomplish.
“For us, it wasn’t over. The motto of this team is always to believe, and even though we didn’t finish the job in Game 2 and La Salle gave us a really good fight, we never stopped believing,” Tolentino said after their celebration.
As their coach Tab Baldwin said, the Blue Eagles left their inner demons in the locker room after the Game 2 loss and already moved on.
“We were ready come next day to get into the gym and listen to what Coach Tab has to say. Listen to our mistakes, because that’s who we are, that’s what we’re willing to do. We just had the mentality that it’s not over.”
As for playing for such a seasoned coach as Baldwin, Tolentino could not have picked a better coach in steering their ship, keeping them on track, and made sure that they would not sink, calling the former Gilas Pilipinas coach amazing, and one of his best mentors.
Baldwin in return praised the graduating forward for being a voice on the locker room, a thing which Baldwin admitted was an integral part in the team’s “leadership by committee.”
“[Tolentino] said to me, ‘Coach, I don’t know if I could be an upfront leader for you but I’ll do everything what you’ll ask me to do and I’ll lead by example.,” Baldwin said.
As for Ikeh, who finished wirh 12 points and 13 rebounds, he could only relish the love of the crowd, as they serenaded his last name during the closing minutes of the game, calling the Ateneo community “one of a kind.”
In the moment Thirdy Ravena was awarded Finals MVP, the third-year guard shared a moment with his graduating center, calling him during the awarding.
“I wasn’t expecting that, but he’s been one of a kind. For him to share that moment with me, it feels so great. I really appreciate that.”
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