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Black’s 5-peat not a goal just yet for Ateneo, says Baldwin

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Ateneo’s Matt Nieto, right, hugs head coach Tab Baldwin after the Blue Eagles wrapped up the UAAP Season 81 Finals last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Ateneo’s Matt Nieto, right, hugs head coach Tab Baldwin after the Blue Eagles wrapped up the UAAP Season 81 Finals last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

by Waylon Galvez

With two championships in three finals appearances, talks of another “dynasty” began circling among basketball fans after Ateneo completed a two-game sweep of University of the Philippines in the UAAP men’s basketball title showdown.

A breakaway 99-81 romp in Game 2 Wednesday night gave the Blue Eagles their 10th overall championship and put in motion the possibility of them winning a few more – harkening back to the school’s five-peat campaign from 2008 to 2012 under coach Norman Black.

However, as far as current Ateneo mentor Tab Baldwin is concerned, winning titles is not the ultimate goal.

“First of, back-to-back doesn’t look so important when you put it next to five in a row,” said Baldwin. “It’s like a little bump in the road, compared to that mountain that they did.”

He added: “We want to pursue excellence. A championship is one measure of excellence, I guess. If that’s the by-product of the way that we do things, then we hope that we can continue to have championships in the future. But again, that’s not the goal, that’s not what we set out to do.”

For Baldwin, player development is his priority, and the reclamation of graduating guard Anton Asistio is a good example of that. The 5-foot-10 guard played his first two seasons with the Eagles but was relegated to Team B on his third year.

Asistio worked his way back to the senior’s roster even if Baldwin isn’t the biggest fan of his playing style. In the end, Asistio rose above his coach’s first impression when he helped the team win two titles as the Eagles’ starting playmaker.

According to Baldwin, his main focus is to help the Blue Eagles “the best players that they can be.”

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