MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin was quick to accept that all good things must come to an end.
Ateneo, the winner of the previous three seasons, was dethroned by J.D. Cagulangan’s epic three-match win in stoppage time as the University of the Philippines ended a 36-year title drought with win 72-69 in game 3 of the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Finals on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“It was an epic match. I’m so proud of our team, but I admit that UP’s fighting spirit… it’s like destiny. You know the shots they’ve hit, those aren’t the shots that normal teams take in normal games, much less than a championship game,” Baldwin said after his team he won the runner-up.
“You have to give a lot of credit to the players and their coach and I wish they would enjoy this championship. They’ve worked incredibly hard for that, they’ve had a great season. They had an unbelievable series of finals and you know, we weren’t quite as good when we needed to be good enough,” he added.
Baldwin said “it’s a razor-thin difference” between Ateneo and UP, who fought her in their three Finals and lost. Cagulangan’s three-point clutch stroke with 0.5 left in extra time is a bitter pill to swallow for teachers and coach Ateneo.
“For Ateneo, it’s a bitter pill, but we’ll take it and we’ll lick our wounds and say goodbye to an excellent group of seniors and have a couple of weeks off,” he told Raffy. Verano, Tyler Tio and Gian Mamuyac ended their UAAP careers as runners-up.
“We will be back on the field to prepare for next season.”
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Baldwin admits it’s very difficult to play in the bubble environment where they play compression schedule.
“It is a foreign territory for the organizers, as well as the teams. I also know that every team is basically on the same boat. We all face the same difficulties. I think we didn’t bring out the full potential of our basketball teams,” he said.
“I think we suffered from a drop in basketball quality as the season went on because you didn’t go to any practice sessions during the season. You are always recovering to prepare for the next match. “
But Baldwin insists he doesn’t want to let UP and coach Goldwin Monteverde lose the moment, also who ending their 39-game winning streak in the final match of the qualifiers and their three-season reign.
“This is a great final and UP is a well-deserved champion,” he said. “I wish their celebration well, stay safe and, you know, all of their fans and supporters. It was a great moment in UP basketball history, and I think we all have to give them credit. “
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