Equipped with a twice-to-beat incentive in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Ateneo de Manila University could easily slack off in its last elimination round game against Adamson University.
A win for the Blue Eagles will, notably, give them the top seed. However, they have the privilege to just go through the motions as the Soaring Falcons need to win to seal a postseason ticket.
“Adamson on Wednesday is a huge affair,” said Blue Eagles coach Tab Baldwin. “It allows us to finish top of the table.
“I don’t think many people would have expected that in the beginning or middle of the season.”
The Ateneo versus Adamson game will mark the end of the elimination round. Moreover, it will determine whether the Final Four can immediately begin or not.
Meanwhile, archrival De La Salle University – if it beats University of Santo Tomas – will be watching closely. It needs Ateneo to win for it to have a chance of making it to the Final Four courtesy of a playoff game against Adamson.
There may be some temptation for the Blue Eagles to play with fate, but Baldwin is not having any of it.
“Play to win.
“There’s only one way to play a game of basketball – play to win,” insisted the former New Zealand national team mentor.
With another title charge on the horizon, Baldwin does not want the Blue Eagles to derail their momentum.
Ateneo is on a five-game winning streak at the moment. Extending that streak will prove essential if it wants to reclaim the crown it lost in Season 84.
Prevailing over University of the Philippines is just another step in its quest to seize the Season 85 title. A win over Adamson is the next thing on the horizon.
“I still think UP is the team to beat, but I think we showed today that we belong at or near the top. But we have to play like that,” said Baldwin.
“That kind of toughness, that kind of resolve, that kind of composure that we showed in the second half. Not always but much, much better than what we’ve shown,” he continued.
“I think that’s what gives you confidence. Not winning but the quality of the performance against the level of competition and we were so much better today in that regard.”