For the past three years, the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles have been dominant.
The Blue Eagles have tallied a 35-7 win-loss record over the last three seasons, 7-5 in the playoffs. Moreover, they have won two gold medals and a silver in the UAAP Men’s Basketball tournament.
But it’s not because of sheer talent. It’s because the Blue Eagles embraced Tab Baldwin’s philosophy.
“We have a formula, we stick to our formula. That’s it. I didn’t tell them anything different. We just tried to correct our mistakes. And that goes for when we win games and when we lose games,” Baldwin disclosed about his so-called secret.
“So we make mistakes all the time.”
Perfection is one thing no one can achieve.
But even as the Blue Eagles racked up win after win after win, Baldwin and his staff would not give their players even a mere pat on the back. He would instead highlight the mistakes that the young squad needed to correct.
Next game, please.
“I’m not even happy with our defense tonight, but they’re not gonna let me say that anymore. But if we had another game, we would be talking about the mistakes we made tonight,” Baldwin shared after Ateneo’s masterful 99-81 title-clinching win last Wednesday.
“It’s just a cast of learning curve. That’s what the coaching staff has committed to doing. We don’t give these guys a break,” the former national team mentor added.
“We’re not there to cheer for them, we’re not there to congratulate them – we’re there to help them be better.”
Though it can get tiresome to keep working and studying at the same time, the Blue Eagles remained vigilant.
Seeing this, Baldwin – who has coached numerous national teams from across the world – also remained tireless even in coaching a collegiate team.
Even if the journey was hard, it has been fun at the same time.
“I think that when we all buy in to the same belief, in the same philosophy, it’s a lot easier to make it work. This has been a fun team to work with, a tremendous group of guys,” shared the 60-year-old tactician. “I think there is gonna be a little bit of fun in a little while.
“So yeah I’m just very blessed, very, very blessed to work with these guys. Very grateful.”
And it’s definitely not because they are winning.
“First of all, back-to-back doesn’t look so important when you put it next to five in a row. It looks like a little bump on the road compared to that mountain that they did,” shared the two-time UAAP champion, paying tribute to the five-time champion team that won the UAAP championship from 2008-2012.
“We want to pursue excellence. You know, a championship is one measure of excellence, I guess. So if that’s a by-product of the way that we do things, we hope that we continue to have championships in the future. Again that’s not the goal. That’s not what we set out to do,” he said. “Of course, at the back of our minds in all honesty that’s an endgame for a team: to win a championship. But we just don’t talk too much about that. We talk more about how each one of these guys can be the best player they can be. And it’s not just something we say for the media, it’s what we work on. It’s who we want to be.
“As long as one of the by-products continues to be championships, then I don’t think MVP [Manny V. Pangilinan, team booster] is gonna tell us to do differently. He wants the championships, no doubt about that,” he quipped.
“We love to give that to him. But there’s a greater purpose to what we do.”
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