Coach Tab Baldwin says the Blue Eagles will have lots of talent next season
The dagger shot was nailed. The final buzzer has made its final sound and was followed by a rain of confetti, flooding the court. These were the scenarios as the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles began to celebrate their championship victory against the De La Salle Green Archers after a classic Game 3 win which was not sealed until the final minute of the game. A classic indeed.
It has been a week already since that exciting Sunday night and to celebrate that championship along with other achievements that are made by the other Ateneo teams in other UAAP sports, the entire Ateneo community joined together and held a bonfire at their Quezon City campus. Present there were members of the UAAP Season 80 Men's Basketball champions headed by Coach Tab Baldwin and Team Captain Vince Tolentino who played his final year for the Blue and White alongside Chubueze Ikeh.
Now that the celebration was done, let's go straight to the next thing the Blue Eagles will need to focus on after winning their first championship since Norman Black led the team to 5 straight championships: defend the title. Despite the fact that the Blue Eagles will no longer have Tolentino and Ikeh around come Season 81, the core of the championship-winning team will remain intact. In fact, they will even get more powerful- at least on paper when Season 81 opens next year.
That if you will believe Coach Tab Baldwin.
Ateneo has tons of possible players who can suit up for next season.
Aside from former Blue Eagle, Adrian Wong who is set to hopefully return after missing a season due to injury, the Eagles will have a new foreign student-player in Angelo Kouame.
Isaac Go, the hero of Season 80, will be expected to play a bigger role next year and so will Raffy Verano.
Also, former San Beda Red Lion, William Navarro and Fil-Kiwi player, Patrick Maadenberg are included in the choices.
And lastly, three Blue Eaglets are set to graduate next year namely, Dave Ildefonso, SJ Belangel and Jason Credo. So, this is a headache Tab Baldwin will want to have: choosing among the players whom he believes will lead the Eagles to another championship.
Season 81 will not start until September of next year. Until then, Isaac Go and the rest of the Blue Eagles can have the luxury of enjoying this championship. After all, it has been five years since the last time they've won one, right? But at the same time, Tab Badlwin will be working behind the limelight as he prepares the Eagles for its title because of the fact that La Salle will still have 2-time MVP, Ben Mbala next season- for one final season.