Kean Baclaan demonstrated his effectiveness as a playmaking point guard rather than a scoring one in National University’s 77-64 win over defending champions Ateneo de Manila University in the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The former De La Salle Zobel standout managed to produce a game-high eight assists along with his four points and four rebounds. He was also a plus-17 in the 17 minutes and 19 seconds he spent on the floor. Not bad for the sophomore standout who made a name for himself as a scoring guard last season instead of being a pass-first one.
“Siguro po, isang buwan na namin pinaghahandaan to. Ready, ready talaga kami. Yun nga sabi ni Coach Jeff (Napa), hungry lang kami every time na makakalaban namin yung mga malalakas na team dito sa UAAP. Siguro, nakakuha kami ng big fish pero shift na kami sa focus namin next game,” said Baclaan.
“Siguro, tumatama lang yung binibigay kong sitwasyon sa mga teammates ko so yun. Naging maganda naman yung nangyari kaya siguro naka eight assists din.”
Being a top point guard in the UAAP is tough because there are so many talented players in the league. Baclaan showed that he has the talent and intellect to take the Bulldogs to the high echelons of the league with his performance against the Blue Eagles.
After a breakthrough campaign in Season 85 that saw NU enter the Final Four after a seven-year drought, the challenge to surpass that achievement this year will be tougher. The 5-foot-8 standout demonstrated that he has more to his game, and this could help the Bulldogs achieve their dreams.
“Siguro ano lang, naka-chamba lang to kasi siguro nakita niyo kanina yung game. Kumbaga yung game ng Ateneo, vice versa eh. Tanggalang ng sitwasyon, tanggalan ng strength eh. Game of minds yung laruan kanina,” said Napa.
“Siguro natuto na rin yung mga bata regarding their maturity na they are more focused to learn dun sa maturity aspects na yun. Siguro yun yung pinaghihintay namin na eventually mag benefit for us para sa kanila.”
A win over Ateneo – one of the UAAP’s perennial contenders, especially under Tab Baldwin – is never easy to achieve. This is only the third time the Blue Eagles lost by double digits during Baldwin’s eight years at the helm.
Despite the milestone, the Bulldogs immediately downplayed the victory. They know that they still have a long way to go, and it’s always about the next assignment.
“Sa akin, feel ko pa lang pag gising ko kaninang umaga, alam ko mananalo na kami. Ganun yung kumpyansa na binibigay sa amin ni Coach Jeff,” said Baclaan.
“Kaya ayun, papunta dito sa game, di namin inaano na defending champions sila. Iba yung season na to. Season 86 na to. Mas naging ok naman yung nangyari ngayong game kaya focus na kami sa FEU.”