by Jonas Terrado
A series of overseas trips are next in line for the defending two-time UAAP champion Ateneo Blue Eagles after capturing the PBA D-League crown last Tuesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Blue Eagles are set to leave for Greece in early-July for a training camp followed by a stop in Singapore to play the country’s national team before heading to Australia for games in Perth and Melbourne.
Coach Tab Baldwin said the itinerary will launch the hardest part of Ateneo’s preparation for the UAAP campaign which opens September.
“It’s not gonna be a lot of time for makeup of fingernails, I think. It’s gonna be hard work,” Baldwin said after his team clinched the PBA D-League crown with a 98-66 win over Centro Escolar University.
“I think it’s a great experience for the boys to understand the travel, to understand the difficulties that long tours represent. They got to bond together as a team, they got to help each in everything we face and it’s a lot when you go on tour.
“It’s something that I really believed in, in terms of building character on the team.”
The team known as Cignal-Ateneo ruled the D-League by winning eight of its nine games in the eliminations before beating Chadao-Far Eastern University and City of Valencia-San Sebastian in the playoffs.
The Blue Eagles overcame a shock Game 2 loss that tied the finals at 1-1 by winning the last two matches by an average margin of 23.5 points.
Isaac Go emerged as the conference Most Valuable Player, Thirdy Ravena and Ange Kouame played their usual games and the likes of SJ Belangel and Will Navarro took advantage of the minutes given then during the tournament.