MANILA, Philippines – It may have been Angelo Kouame and Thirdy Ravena who led Ateneo to a decisive UAAP triumph over Far Eastern University, but head coach Tab Baldwin took time to credit the under-the-radar performance of Will Navarro.
The former San Beda Red Lion only put up 4 points and 7 rebounds, but quietly achieved a +30 efficiency rating – a stat Baldwin wants to see more from his players.
"He (Navarro) understands the little things that have to be done. And they're the things that make the team play better," the champion tactician said.
"So, you know, if we get everybody out there doing all the things that Will is doing, you know that +30 starts to be reflected in a lot of other players' numbers."
"It's not about highlights, it's about efficiency and Will was the poster boy for efficiency today," he added.
Baldwin also heaped praise on his soft-spoken forward for his great attention to detail that translated to excuting the intangibles of Ateneo's killer defensive schemes, which were evident when the Blue Eagles stretched a five-point lead to 19 points in the 3rd quarter.
Ravena, who recorded a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, also admitted that the whole team looks up to how Navarro approaches a game.
"Hindi lang siya parang robot. He does it because he knows it's the right thing. Marami din akong natututunan, even as a senior, kay Will," said Ravena.
"I see him all the time na pinapanood yung scouting, lahat, he gets every little detail done. Nagiging inspiration siya para sa amin."
(He's not like a robot. He does it because he know it's the right thing. I learn a lot from him, even if I'm a senior to Will. I always see him watching the scouting reports, he gets every little detail done. He's an inspiration to us.)
Baldwin said players like Navarro, whose performance could have easily gone unnoticed, should be given more credit as they play key roles in Ateneo's three-peat bid.
"I think this is one of the messages that I'm trying to get through to the whole team, that if we play like this, we do all of those things well, then we can potentially get closer to that great basketball that Mike Nieto was referring to earlier, and that's really the goal," added Baldwin.
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.