ATENEO head coach Tab Baldwin said the Blue Eagles need to go back to the drawing board and rediscover who they are after successive losses put an impressive UAAP season in peril.
The Blue Eagles, who came a win short of a sweep of the eliminations and an outright place in the finals, found themselves in danger of missing the finals after a 67-80 loss to fourth seed Far Eastern University.
But more worryingly for their coach, Baldwin said he sensed a drop in confidence for the team during a stretch in the second half when it let the Final Four game slip away.
“Out there, late in the second half when I knew we weren't gonna come back and win that game, I was thinking to myself, 'Gosh I haven't been in this mode of thinking in a long time.' You know, over a year. And for our players, probably, the same thing,” Baldwin said.
The former Gilas coach said the top-seeded team needs to 'rediscover who we are' between now and the sudden-death match on Wednesday.
“I think there is something there. I can feel it myself as a coach. So we have to accept the humility of the scenario, we have to get back to understanding what we do well, and sort of rediscover who we are. It's there, there's no question that it's still there,” said Baldwin.
“But today I thought we played like a young team, and we shouldn't. Yes, there's youth there, but we've been together long enough and we shouldn't play like a young team. We have to figure it out,” he added.
Baldwin rued the Blue Eagles' inability to hit shots they normally made, but was quick to give credit to the Tamaraws who came out and executed their game plan to perfection with their season on the line.
“I think FEU played real well. They had a good game plan, we shot the ball just abysmally. We had open shots particularly in the first half, and we didn't hit them,” said Baldwin.
“I think our confidence kind of went down, and I hate to see that because with young kids, you don't ever want to see their confidence sort of erode a little bit. And then in the second half, we started forcing it,” he added.
Now it’s all about reminding the Blue Eagles what kind of team they are, Baldwin said.
“They have a successful season to fall back on in terms of looking for confidence. So really, it's about the coaching staff giving these players a message, something specific that they can look at and say, 'Yes, we can do that.' And go about doing it."