The Tab Baldwin-mentored Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles continue to raise the standards in collegiate basketball as the defending UAAP champions are headed to Greece for a 13-day tour against the country’s finest up-and-coming squads.
After the Blue Eagles defeated the FEU Tamaraws Wednesday afternoon to win the 2018 SMART City Hoops 25-Under Summer Classic crown, there were little celebration among the team. They quickly packed their bags and left the venue. They had little time to rest as they need to head to the airport at 5:00am the next day as they depart for Doha, Qatar at 7:45am. From there, they will have a connecting flight to Greece.
This is the first time a Philippine-based collegiate basketball squad will head to Greece. The usual destination of choice for pre-season camps for the past few years are Lithuania, Miami, Las Vegas, and South Korea.
But according to Baldwin — who is a huge advocate of the European-style of play, learning from and playing against the Greeks, the ninth-ranked basketball country in the world, will bring the best learning experience for the Blue Eagles.
“We want good basketball and we want to learn. There’s no question that we’re going to get good basketball in Greece,” he shared.
The 13-day trip though won’t feature a training camp whatsoever. The Blue Eagles’ management have set-up multiple tune-up games against the country’s Under-21 squad and multiple A-2 teams.
“We are getting play their great under-21 national team twice. We’re going to play against A-2 teams, which is like in a lot of countries the D-League or the second division. So we will be up against grown men and experienced professionals,” Baldwin disclosed. “I suspect that we’re going to have a tough tour. I’m not expecting great results but I’m expecting a lot of learning experiences.
“I just think that it’s a far better experience to go to Europe and go to a quality-basketball country like Greece than go to the States in the summer time and play just pick-up teams. These teams will be better and I think it’s going to be a good learning experience.”
Still, the decorated Kiwi tactician hopes that they could run a few full practices in when they get to Greece as they’ve only had three full sessions since May 1.
“We’re searching for better play. I think we’ve only had three practices since May 1. Because we had two weeks of for Finals and we had Baler. Everything else is just games and we’re really suffering right now from not having practices,” Baldwin lamented.
“I’m a little worried heading to Greece because we’re only going there to play games too. We really need practices but that’s the way it is right now. The schedule is demanding of us and I think our performances are falling off a bit. But, we got to live with that.”
The Blue Eagles contingent are Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Matt Nieto, Mike Nieto, Anton Asistio, Adrian Wong, Jolo Mendoza, Gian Mamuyac, Aaron Black, Tyler Tio, Jawuan White, Angelo Kouame, Raffy Verano, William Navarro, SJ Belangel, Jason Credo, Patrick Maagdenberg, and Troy Mallillin.