ATENEO is one of eight teams from around the world competing in the World University Basketball Series set from August 10 to 13 at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Shibuya in Tokyo, Japan.
For Blue Eagles head coach Tab Baldwin, it’s a great honor to participate in the second edition of the tournament.
The stint not only provides the Blue Eagles an opportunity to explore different strategies for the buildup for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines’ 86th season but also allows them to represent the country.
“As I say when people ask me about the UAAP crown, we are not really defending anything,” said the New Zealand Basketball Hall of Famer Baldwin. “We have to go there for the dual purpose of playing our hearts out in representing the school and the country, but we also need to ensure the development of our team, system, and combinations for the UAAP.”
The field has doubled from four teams last year to eight this year, with Japan’s Tokai University and Chinese Taipei’s National Chengchi University also returning to the competition.
The other teams are the USA’s Radford University (NCAA Division I), Japan’s Hakuoh University, Australia’s University of Sydney, Korea University and Indonesia’s Perbanas Institute.
“I’m happy. I want as tough a competition as we can get. We don’t know the caliber of the teams, but it seems on paper that the competition will be tougher,” Baldwin said regarding this year’s teams.
Unlike the other teams, Ateneo will have an exhibition game on August 10 against a selection of players from the All Japan University Basketball Federation.
The knockout tournament will commence the next day, with Ateneo facing the University of Sydney.
The winner of that match will play either Perbanas Institute or Hakuoh University in the following days.
Radford will play against Korea U in the first round, while Tokai will face Chengchi.
The losing teams will move on to the classification phase.
“We are going there to win and gain experience for the UAAP season,” said the four-time champion coach Baldwin.
Last year, Ateneo completed a three-game sweep of the tournament, defeating Universitas Pelitas Harapan (125-39), Chengchi (88-78) and Tokai (68-59).
Kai Ballungay was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.