ATENEO did it a month ago but coach Tab Baldwin knows doing it again, with the title on the line, will be much more difficult.
The Blue Eagles, the only team to deal La Salle a loss this season, enter the UAAP Season 79 finals confident but wary as they expect a much different Green Archers squad in the finals begin on Saturday.
“The confidence that we take from beating them once, at the same time, knowing that the team was a little bit complacent and a team that was on a 12-game run, that was a team that had beaten us soundly before, we know that we are not going to see the same Green Archers team in Game One,” Baldwin said.
“But I think we have some momentum and certainly, with some inspiration we take from that game, we are going to stand in front of them. We are not going to bow out of the way. We are not going to open the door for them,” said Baldwin.
“We are going to bloody them I’m sure as they want to bloody us,” said Baldwin.
Baldwin has done well in steering dark horse teams into contenders, leading the New Zealand Tall Blacks to a surprising semifinal finish in the 2002 Fiba World Championship and Gilas Pilipinas to the finals of the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship before bowing to China.
Baldwin vowed that the Blue Eagles will prove they are a worthy challenger, even as underdogs.
“If they don’t see that we are the underdog, they are blind,” said Baldwin. “We are the prohibitive underdogs in this tournament.”