MANILA, Philippines – With Ateneo de Manila University building a massive lead after three quarters against University of the East (UE) on Sunday, coach Tab Baldwin seized the opportunity to give his little-used reserves some playing time.
The Blue Eagles had a 65-35 lead at the end of the third, and Baldwin sent his second- and third-stringers in to start the payoff period. Troy Mallillin, Jason Credo, and Geo Chiu all saw action in the fourth frame, after barely playing in the Blue Eagles' first 11 games of the season.
"I think it's great to get those guys out on the floor for some meaningful minutes, not just minute or two," Baldwin said after the game.
"I think they deserve that, and I think it's up to the guys that play the majority of minutes to have that as one of their goals, when they play, is to get those guys out there for more minutes," he added.
"It's how they groom themselves for the future, because they're all gonna be important players in our future."
In the closing minutes of the game, Baldwin left a veteran on the floor with the reserves – big man Isaac Go, who scored 13 points on top of 3 rebounds, an assist, and a block in what turned out to be an 84-50 demolition for the Blue Eagles.
Go, who is averaging 13 minutes per game in Season 82 as Ange Kouame's back-up, was delighted to have shared the court with the Ateneo youngsters, particularly rookie big man Geo Chiu.
"I think with that, anyone of us, any of the vets could have taken on the position," said Go. "I think today, Coach Tab chose me, I don't know what's his reason is."
"But I guess just watching over, helping them out, especially Geo, he played really well," he added.
Chiu, a product of Ateneo High School, had 4 points and 3 rebounds in just over five minutes of action. Go was there to look out for the freshman, who was called for a double unsportsmanlike foul along with UE's Nick Abanto with a shade over two minutes to play in the game.
"It's just watching out for the young guys, helping them out, especially they haven't had a lot of minutes this season," said Go.
For Go, he and the rest of the Ateneo veterans are simply doing for their younger players what had been done for them by the former Blue Eagles.
"We know na may utang rin kami sa kanila, in a way that we were once in that position where we had vets helping us," Go explained.
"It's now our turn to continue the cycle, to build the culture, the build the brotherhood," he said.
The big win over UE pushed Ateneo's record to 12-0, two games away from a sweep of the elimination round. They will try for a 13th straight win on Saturday against National University.
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