Eagles not looking too far ahead

John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - October 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Unbeaten, unchallenged, invincible and all, the mighty Ateneo is not keen on sitting on its laurel just yet, keeping its sights set on the ultimate prize as the 82nd UAAP men’s basketball tournament enters its final stretch.

After 12 games, no team has come really close to beating the Blue Eagles, who are looking down at a number of teams which are scrambling to stay afloat in an expected wild Final Four race until the last game of the double-round prelims.

One clear indication of the reigning champion’s dominant performance was their recent victory at the expense of the hapless UE side, 84-50, that moved them to within two wins away from an elimination-round sweep and an outright Finals entry.

Still, a mop up is not in the mind of coach Tab Badlwin right now, locking his focus one game at a time for their last two assignments starting against NU this Saturday.

“No (we’re not thinking about a possible sweep). We’re just thinking NU,” said the seasoned mentor.

“For any team in this position things like undefeated seasons, sweeps, they happen because you take it one step at at time, not because you make some grand statement about how good you are in front of a microphone.”

The UAAP format calls for a team to progress right away to the championship round should it manage to a 14-0 sweep of the elims – a feat that was last achieved by UE led by Paul Lee, Mark Borboran and Mark Espiritu in 2007.

Ateneo is now two wins away from repeating that rare milestone that would only boster their three-peat UAAP championship bid.

Baldwin, however, would rather not get ahead of things.

“Sports is about performance, not about bragging about performance. So we’re very much focused on what our next performance is going to be. Hopefully when we step up against NU, we’ll be the prepared for that game and they will be center of our attention and we’ll take care of business,” he added. 

“We have a week of preparation for NU then UP. So it’s good to be where we’re at obviously and we want to carefully watch our upcoming opponents and potential playoff opponents now over the next two weeks.” 

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