[EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW] WUBS: Philippines’ Ateneo Blue Eagles Aim to Find Their Weakness in Japan Stint

TOKYO – Fans and supporters of Ateneo Blue Eagles were on a high after the men’s basketball team wrapped up the first round-robin in the World University Basketball Series (WUBS) with a 125-39 victory against Indonesia’s Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH) at the Yoyogi National Stadium Second Gymnasium Tuesday night.

But for team captain BJ Andrade and head coach Tab Baldwin, determining their flaws is just as important as winning the games in this inaugural tourney.

“It’s a great honor to represent the Philippines and our school so I hope we did a good job,” Andrade told Filipino-Japanese Journal (FJJ) in an exclusive interview after the game.

“Ang focus namin is ‘yung team namin kung paano kami magre-react sa mga strategies nila [opponents], ang focus namin is ‘yung development namin as a team.

“Kaya kami pumupunta sa mga liga na ganito ay para makita ‘yung mga weaknesses namin para pag-uwi namin sa Pilipinas, doon namin siya ipo-polish,” said the Ateneo veteran who is open to joining Japan’s B. League given the chance.

Baldwin echoed the same stance.

“We hope to identify weaknesses more than anything else. We want to see what we are not doing well,” he said.

“This is just part of the process of evaluation of our team. It is very important that we understand what our weaknesses are, but it’s also important we win games.

“We didn’t come over here to enjoy Japan. It’s a beautiful country, we love it. But we came over here to get some hardware and make our university and our fans proud.”

Ateneo will go up against Taiwan’s National Chengchi University tonight at 7:35 p.m. (JST). - Words by Florenda Corpuz, Photos by Din Eugenio