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Captain Vince Tolentino makes the right choice

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Vince Tolentino’s impact to the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ golden campaign has been unheralded to say the least.

The stats may show that he averaged 6.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists this season but he played 21.5 minutes per game, third most minutes behind stalwarts Thirdy Ravena and Matt Nieto. And he earned those minutes by leading by example to the young Blue Eagles, letting his work do the talking for him.

“Vince is a unique guy,” second-year Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin reflected about his co-captain during the team’s thanksgiving mass Sunday evening.

“When I wanted a leader, he said to me, ‘Coach, I’m not sure if I’m the stand-up ra-ra guy, but I’ll do my best to show them where to go’,” Baldwin shared.

“And didn’t he do a great job?”

But all of this almost did not happen.

Tolentino, a Filipino-Canadian, was initially recruited by the DLSU Green Archers. But he later realized that “blue fitted him better.”

Even if he was already with Ateneo, he contemplated transferring, feeling that he lacked playing time under then-Ateneo head coach Bo Perasol.

“The first few stages of my Ateneo career were very difficult,” recounted Tolentino, who played a total of just 242 minutes in his first three years. “I was a young teenager so far away from home with a dream and without a chance to go on the floor to prove himself.

“I thought of going back home to Canada or transferring to another school,” the soft-spoken student-athlete furthered.

“But then a beacon of white light came shining down in my senior year… Coach Tab Baldwin!”

Under Baldwin, Tolentino flourished. Moreover, he found his passion back that made him return for one last run with his brothers-at-arm.

“For me, going into my last year, that was one thing on my mind: I wanted a championship. And these boys promised me a championship,” Tolentino shared.

“Since Day One, we always talked about it, we were going to get it.”

After the promise was fulfilled, Tolentino made sure to give back to Baldwin, making a pitch to all the prospects to trust what his mentor is preaching.

“For me, I’ve never had a coach like Coach Tab. The attention to detail, his mind is just full of so much basketball knowledge,” Ateneo’s skipper expressed.

“For us young players, it’s so important for us to develop at a young age and Coach Tab has done that, and he will continue to do that for the Ateneo program.

This pitch will definitely resonate to the next batches of Blue Eagles as he is a testament of how the Ateneo basketball program has changed under Baldwin’s watch. All they got to do is ask Vince about it.

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