Baldwin says quality of individuals - more than championship - makes this Ateneo batch special
Tab Baldwin says the Season 80 Blue Eagles are one of the best squads he has handled in a coachinh career spanning decades. Jerome Ascano

COACH Tab Baldwin continued to heap praise on the Ateneo Blue Eagles, saying the run to the UAAP title ranks as one of the highest points of his coaching career more because of the players than the championship itself.

Baldwin had compared the squad led by Thirdy Ravena to professional players, saying the Blue Eagles did in training what a coach simply could not ask from play-for-pay cagers.

“Really special,” Baldwin said.

The season saw a bunch of Blue Eagles shine, with Isaac Go, Aaron Black, the Nieto twins Matt and Mike among those grabbing their share of the spotlight.

“Every team that I’ve coached, rather than stand on the merits of the result, has stood on the qualities of the individuals that I’ve coached, in retrospect. At that time, you were fighting for your job, you are fighting for food on your family’s table, you want wins.

“But when you look back on the relationships, everything is so fresh, (but) there is no question that every guy in this room, and I’m not sure I can say that about any of the team that I’ve coached, but every guy in this room will find an open door in my house for the rest of my life because they are all good men,” said Baldwin.

That’s a lot, from a man who has coached internationally including Gilas Pilipinas as well as New Zealand, which he led to a spot in the 2006 Fiba World Championship.

Baldwin hailed the players and his coaching staff for the experience.

“Because of that, I’ve enjoyed immensely the season, and working with these guys. It’s hard to work with younger players but this was one job that I look forward to coming to every day,” said Baldwin.

“I should also mention in the same breath as the coaching staff that I worked with,” said Baldwin.

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