ATENEO coach Tab Baldwin is man enough to admit that when push came to shove in Game One of the UAAP Finals, the Blue Eagles just didn't look like the indomitable force that they were for much of the season.
"In the critical moments of the game, we looked disjointed," Baldwin lamented on the heels of the UP Maroons' 81-74 win in overtime over his Ateneo side on Sunday. "We didn't look cohesive. We were searching."
"UP certainly had the initiative with the defensive pressure and didn't allow us to settle and we didn't settle. So we made bad plays in regulation and in the overtime."
It was an uncharacteristic collapse for the Blue Eagles, who looked poised to take the series opener after taking a 12-point lead and taking an eight-point spread, 68-60, into the final 4:35 of Game One.
But the numbers don't lie, and for Baldwin, the performance they had wasn't up to the standards that he's held this team from Day One of the season.
"The game was winnable in regulation, but I'm not really sure if you deserve to win when you allow your opposition a 50-percent offensive rebounding percentage," he said, zooming in on UP's 29 offensive rebounds from its 51 total.
Aside from that, Baldwin also hammered down on Ateneo's 26 turnovers which turned into 26 easy points for UP, and the Blue Eagles shooting themselves on the foot with their 11-of-25 free throw shooting.
"It's almost like you're trying to lose when those numbers are present on the score sheet," he sighed.
"Certainly there were some good numbers in the score sheet in our favor, but that's not indicative of how we normally play or the role that we certainly want to play. We intend to get back to claim that way we should play."
Disappointing as this Game One showing was for Ateneo, Baldwin still believes that he can wake his side out of its slumber and whip the Blue Eagles back to form come Game Two on Wednesday.
"We believe that we can turn this result around," he said. "It's a three-game series for a reason, so we intend to take our two days off and get this thing to a third game and you know, do the very best we can to win the championship."
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