Ateneo set for Filoil preseason return as Baldwin wants to assess Blue Eagles in competition
Gilas coach Tab Baldwin is taking on a new challenge in college basketball after success with professional players in international play. Jaime Campos

ATENEO could make a return to a local preseason tournament with coach Tab Baldwin hoping to use their participation as gauge in putting together the Blue Eagles squad for the UAAP Season 79 basketball tournament.

The Blue Eagles have not seen action in the Filoil tournament for two seasons in lieu of summer training abroad but Baldwin said he wants to see the players in competition this summer as part of preparation for the UAAP, which will not open until September.

“We are targeting the Filoil and I’d like to think they’ll be ready by then. But that decision won’t be made till later on,” said Baldwin.

After coaching Gilas Pilipinas anchored by professional players, Baldwin said he is patient with the Ateneo players who have just began training under the American-New Zealander head coach.

“I’m not going to rush these guys to becoming a team. We have a lot of work to do on building a culture. I don’t think it’s going to be fair for the players and for the fans to put them in competition which they are not ready yet,” said Baldwin.

Ateneo will enter the new UAAP season without two-time MVP Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal, and focus will be on a young core that includes Adrian Wong, Jerie Pingoy, Hubert Cani, and Matt Nieto.

Baldwin is pleased to take on the challenge of coaching college kids after success at the top level.

“It’s a huge change in mentality. I think it’s good for me as a human being, to get back to teaching basics and honing their character. It’s a challenge for me to change the way I coach,” said Baldwin.

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