basketball

Ateneo- UST: We Should Win This One

Remember the last game? What?! You don’t?! Here’s a video to jar your memory . . .

Now in the 2nd round, the situation is different. Ateneo is fighting to win its last 4 games for positioning in the UAAP Final Four; UST, on the other hand, has to win it’s remaining games just to have a remote chance of making the Final Four. Ateneo has its lineup intact; UST does not have Kevin Ferrer. So who do I think will win on Saturday? Ateneo definitely has the advantage and should win by about 7 points or so. I’m not being overconfident. In fact, I’m being cautious.  I daresay I’d wager a blowout but I don’t know which Aljon Mariano will play on Saturday. Will I see the dismal Aljon or a fantastic Aljon? If the latter, then UST has a chance. It’s a given that Paula . . . este, Karim . . . Abdul will have his usual game and try to carry the team. I wonder if his recent whining regarding his teammates will help him or alienate him from them. Subido and Vigil will have to play excellent games to give the team a chance since UST isn’t that deep. Ferrer’s injury is definitely a big blow to them.

Kiefer has to have his usual game and the Ateneo bigs have to contain the damage of Abdul. With no Ferrer, maybe Tolentino can get his outside game back. Does UST have a Kiefer-stopper? Daquiaog? Aljon Mariano? If UST focuses on Kiefer, then Von Pessumal  should step up and make his shots. Chris Newsome should also have a good game. I wonder if Gotladera can hold his own versus Abdul. Gotladera has been a revelation and is the new darling of Ateneo basketball.

I believe UST is a longshot to make it to the Final Four even if they win all their games. Kevin Ferrer may be gone for the season and their placing is even lower than UE. At best at this point they serve as spoilers, but spoilers can be dangerous because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So Ateneo should just play it’s game and not take UST for granted. I hope for a convincing win wherein second and maybe even third stringers get a chance to play for more game experience. Of course, if it’s not a convincing win, I will take any win. We have a big chance to make Top 2 so let’s go for it. OBF!

Advertisements

UAAP Team Performance in Season 77 to date

We are now well into the second round of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Season 77 tourney. Before the season started, my personal ranking of teams were as follows:

1. DLSU

2. UE

3-6. ADMU, FEU, NU and UST (not in any particular order)

7-8. Adamson and UP

So how have the teams performed so far? This is just my personal opinion, not scientific at all. Plus I’m Atenean so there will be some bias. Hehehehe.

DLSU – So-so. When DLSU went 0-2 they were definitely underachieving. DLSU is practically intact and should be blowing away each and every opponent. But they aren’t doing that at all. They seem to be coasting and doing just enough to win. So when they faced FEU and ADMU, both of which torched them from the outside, they definitely got burned. Now they have won 6 straight games but still not in the dominant fashion most fans expected them to be. DLSU likes to place themselves behind the radar so I believe if you ask them they will say they are happy where they stand right now. Teng Animo Rin! 🙂

UE – Underachieving. With Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie dominating their positions and enough role players to help them, UE should be a shoo-in for the Final Four, maybe even in the Finals! What happened to them? They have a good coach naman. Their vaunted press gives them many free points. I believe they are just having a hard-luck season. How many games have they lost by only 2 points? Overtime loss. UE starts strong but maybe because of the press they run out of gas in the end. Sayang. What could have been.

ADMU – Overachieving. Who would have thought they would lead after the first round and is presently 2nd place in the tourney this late into the season. With numerous rookies and a new system, Ateneo needed  to jell quickly. Since ADMU didn’t join any pre-season tourneys, no one really knew how to rank them. It was just safe to say that they would vie for a Final Four ticket. Kiefer Ravena is having an MVP-type of season and Ateneo needs him to perform in their remaining games.

NU – Overachieving.  After the departure of Bobby Ray Parks, many thought there went the fortunes of NU. But NU is well-coached. Kudos to their coaching staff for defining the role of each player and making them play like a team. Oh yes, it helps to have a player like Aroga. Troy Rosario is the new alpha-male for NU.

FEU – Overachieving. Did anyone expect FEU to place second after losing RR garcia and Terrence Romeo? We all know that FEU can now finally share the basketball and Coach Nash Racela is doing a good job mentoring this team. And what can I say about Mac Belo? Simply Amazing! This guy is for real! Good for him.

UST – Sayang. Well everybody knows that UST will be a different team without Jeric Teng. Who will lead this team? Aljon Mariano, (Paula) Abdul and Kevin Ferrer should carry the team but all of them have had their fair share of misfortune. Vigil and Subido have their moments but this isn’t their year yet. Looks like they will miss the Final Four this year unless…

Adamson – Forgettable. Ok they have 11 rookies but scoring a measly 2 points in a quarter is simply horrendous! They now own the dubious record of having the fewest points scored in a quarter in a UAAP tourney EVER! Then they seem to be having coaching problems. This is definitely the longest season for them in recent history.

UP – Rollercoaster? I can’t seem to describe their season. UP has won one game so far. Does that make them Overachievers? Ok they will probably win their 2nd game vs Adamson. So should there be another bonfire? Their coach predicted 3 wins. If so, they are underachieving. UP does well up to the third quarter; then when the opponents make a run, UP seems helpless to stop it. I feel if they had one more star player, their fortunes would change.

I’m sure many will disagree and say I should have said this or I should’t have said that but I don’t really mind. Give me your counterpoints in the comments section and maybe we can have a lively discussion. I had fun doing this impromptu analysis and I hope you did too. Enjoy the rest of the season!

Ateneo – NU: Contrapelo?

Someone pointed out to me that Ateneo has lost to National University the last three times they met. Is that right? My old memory of NU is that they were the whipping boys of the UAAP. When any UAAP team played NU, it was almost a sure thing the team would end up with the win.  

Then in 2008 the Sy family bought NU. Everyone knew that, with their deep pockets, the Sy family will definitely use basketball and sports to promote the school and raise enrollment numbers. Eric Altamirano was hired as Coach and Bobby Ray Parks became the Poster Boy of the team. NU’s fortunes changed favorably, albeit slowly. NU started to win games but unfortunately they would also lose games. Sometimes they would lose games with them comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter. Parks went on to grab two MVP honors but despite that and stellar import Emmanuel Mbe who would average 11 rebounds a game, NU would not reach the Finals. So close, yet so far!

This season, with the departure of Bobby Ray Parks, not much was expected of NU except probably to make the Final Four. This is the time for the other recruits of NU to excel, and surprisingly they are doing well! They are tall and athletic and can shoot from the outside. Alfred Aroga is a monster inside the paint and can dominate the big men of the other teams. He is averaging more than 9 rebounds a game and is the leader in blocks. If NU had Aroga last season, they would have made the Finals and maybe would have won it all. Kudos to Coach Eric Altamirano and the coaching staff for making the team competitive and cohesive from the get-go. Come to think of it, the coaches of both NU and Ateneo  are UP alumni. 

For Ateneo to win, everyone including Kiefer must step up. The Phenom had a dismal showing in the last Ateneo-NU game with “just” 13 points. Kiefer has vowed to step up and I’m sure he will find a way to redeem himself. In Kiefer We Trust! When Ateneo played UE, they doubled- and triple-teamed Charles Mammie, shutting him down in the second half. Ateneo must do the same and always put a body or two on Aroga. Will Coach Bo play that card?

Chris Newsome and Von Pessumal, do your stuff! Arvin Tolentino, we need you now, more than ever! From the NU side, I hope Troy Rosario doesn’t play well because he can really light it up from the outside. Neypes, please keep it clean! Your new hippie look just masks your brusqueness. 🙂 

I expect the game to be a grind it out affair. Both teams will be battle-tested. This game will be like a chess game wherein coaches will try to exploit the weaknesses of the opposing team. As usual, whoever has the poise in the endgame will win. I hope it’s us. It’s Payback time! OBF!

Is Kiefer A Flop(per)?

bd5u6

To the Ateneo faithful, Kiefer is no flopper.

But recent press releases have now resurfaced, and the UAAP community – especially our opponents – are accusing Kiefer Ravena of taking dives. Kiefer had been called out in the past for his “flopping,” and even Ato Badolato commented that he is a “good actor.”  Kiefer often gets the ball every time the ball is brought down. King Eagle as he is, he can score from the outside as well as drive for the basket. He is naturally the marked man, and thus the focus of the opponent’s defense is to stop him. Unfortunately for the defense, Kiefer is shifty. Have you ever tried to catch a chicken ala Sylvester Stallone in one of those “Rocky” movies? Have you ever tried slapping that flying cockroach in your room?  It is almost impossible to stay in front of him so often he gets fouled on their way to the basket – hence, foul in the act of shooting. He has to sell the foul. That’s the strategy. Kiefer has to make sure that ref sees it. In most of the alleged “flops,” I’d say there had been actual contact. To me, that isn’t flopping. Flopping is claiming there was a foul when there was actually none. Just like the movies when the bad guy swings at the star and the star flies backwards toward the wall. May sound effects pa! 🙂

I heard that the NBA is now cracking down on flops. There’s this video in Youtube that gives examples of flops. In fact, Kiefer had been compared to Lebron in terms of flopping. Really? I’ve seen videos of Lebron flop and Kiefer doesn’t even come close to his play-acting! Oh well, at least Kiefer promised to lessen his “foul-selling” antics.

Let’s not even touch on the topic of fouls that aren’t called! When Ateneo inbounds the ball, don’t the opponents hold our players resulting in a steal and easy 2 points for them? Or when we are being played too tight and when we try to get away, isn’t our second motion what the referee sees? Let’s not even bring up the fouls that could have been called in the 3-point line when we played DLSU! Sheesh, we also foul a lot and we also get slapped with questionable calls so what is their problem? Do we air our complaints to the media? Do we try to condition the minds of the UAAP Commish, refs and our future opponents of fouls committed against us but never called? That’s where breaks of the game comes in. Now if there is a hidden agenda above all this, that is beyond me.

Why are the losing teams picking on Ateneo and Ravena? I think it’s because they are surprised that Ateneo topped the UAAP first round playing small ball! Basketball is supposed to be a “Big Man’s Game” that’s why teams try to get two tall athletic imports and as many Fil-fors that they can. At the beginning of the season, Coach Bo didn’t make any predictions except his hope that Ateneo will pull off a few surprises. If we can win playing small ball, are they alluding that we are cheating? That we get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to iffy calls? I sure hope not because that would be pretty low of them. All these remarks are coming from frustration and should be left unsaid next time. When we lost to NU and DLSU did we complain? We just accept the losses and just move on. That’s maturity. You either realize that your team made some mistakes (and then work on correcting those mistakes) or you give credit to the other team. When we lost to DLSU, Bo didn’t complain about the referees. Instead he lamented on Ateneo’s slow start. And what did we do in the next game? We didn’t allow UE to post a huge lead. Not like Derrick Pumaren. What lesson is he teaching the players? That it’s always someone else’s fault?

There will always be complaints about officiating from both sides. All calls eventually average out in the end. So long as there are no blatantly wrong calls, we will accept the outcome. Looking forward to Payback vs NU this Sunday. OBF!

Thank God For Kiefer

First of all, thank you Chris Newsome for keeping us in the game. Kiefer was trying to involve his teammates early on but sometime in the second quarter he got his third foul and had to sit til halftime. Ateneo this time didn’t have a lethargic start and in fact led during the first half. There were instances of mental lapses from the team resulting in easy two points for UE.

Charles Mammie had his usual power game. Lucky for us, Roi Sumang wasn’t playing that well or shall I say, didn’t have his usual game. Is Roi still injured? He however scored 5 quick points to bring down our lead to a measly 1 point in the fourth quarter with less than 3 minutes to go.  With Mammie getting the rebounds and Roi being more assertive, I felt we were very vulnerable.

Then just like in the NBA, the star player gets the ball and does what he does best with 8 seconds to go in the shot clock. With a one point lead, one would think that Kiefer would drive in or pull up for a shot or pass the ball at the last instance to an open teammate. Noooo….he takes a higher risk, high arching 3-pointer which hit nothing but net! The Kiefer legend continues! The 4 point lead was too much for UE to overcome. Thank you Kiefer! Mabuhay ka!

So we are now 1-1 in this 4-game schedule of death prepared by the UAAP. Though ADMU has the better win-loss record vis-a-vis NU, ADMU is considered the underdog, again due to the African imports of NU. NU is a tall athletic team but beatable. Kiefer will be inspired to play better this time and ADMU may just have it’s revenge. It’s Payback time! One Big Fight!

Ateneo- UE: We Need To Win This Game

Didn’t we just play UE’s less than two weeks ago? Them again? We all know UE is out for some payback. Expect Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie to lead their charge again. 

For Ateneo, it’s still the Kiefer Ravena show. I don’t believe UE has a player to stop Kiefer so Kiefer will have his numbers, but I don’t expect 38 points because he has to involve his teammates. Arvin Tolentino has to make his 3 point shots. This will force the African imports to play him outside and maybe open up the lanes for Kiefer and Chris Newsome.  Two questions in my mind. Will Kiefer tire? Will Coach Bo control his minutes? 

Ateneo needs this win but UE needs this win more so expect UE to go all out from the get-go. Ateneo can’t afford another slow start and everyone in the team knows it. Ateneo must match the energy of UE. I’m sure the coaching staff has devised ways to counter Mammie and turn him into Pansit (corny ba?) 🙂   Expect another close game and like any Final Four atmosphere game, whichever team that makes it’s shots and keeps its composure will win the game. Breaks of the game is a given – officiating included. 

I know the UAAP is following a template depending on the standings of the first round which incidentally can be amended upon the whim of the UAAP Board. I just wanted to point out that ADMU will be undergoing a tough first four games in the second round. If FIBA had a Group of Death, ADMU has a Schedule of Death with DLSU, UE, NU and UST in that order. I would be content if ADMU gets a 2-2 record after these four games.  How I wish we play UP or Adamson during this stretch. Well, I guess this is the price to pay for winning the first round. The bullseye is at our backs and we have to prove our worth. 

Good Game, DLSU

It's Ateneo vs DLSU!

It’s Ateneo vs DLSU!

Good game, DLSU. You deserve this one. When Jeron Teng started the game strong and took matters into his own hands in the first quarter, I was telling myself, “Yes you are playing well now but you will fade in the fourth quarter.” In the second quarter, it was Kiefer Ravena’s turn to sizzle but we were still behind at the half. During the third quarter Ateneo made it’s run and closed the gap and by the fourth quarter it was a nip-and-tuck affair.

Just like the first game, whichever team that can make the shots and make the stops in the endgame, wins. Jason Perkins field goal gave DLSU the cushion it needed. Chris Newsome tried to save the day but came up short. The key here is that Jeron Teng made his free throws in the clutch. In fact, he didn’t miss! Kiefer Ravena scored only 7points in the second half but his supporting cast fought a good fight. Let’s just give credit to the DLSU coaching staff for making the necessary adjustments.

We won the first game and we were in cloud 9. DLSU won this game. Should we feel sad? Maybe just a bit because we care. At the start of the season, I don’t think any of us expected that we could beat DLSU twice in the regular season. Winning once would have been good enough. Remember DLSU is intact and the team to beat this year. They may have many players injured but this doesn’t really matter to them because they were built to be 2-3 strong per position. One goes down, someone else capable will step up. Watch out for Rivero in the future!

Just remember, our goal of this season is to reach the Final Four. Ending the first round with a 6-1 record is heaven sent, but we also don’t want to be limping to the Final Four. Of the teams in this tourney, barring any major injuries, we should get wins from UP and Adamson. Then, hopefully, we  can grab three wins from the remaining teams. So this loss is only a glitch in our quest for a Final Four spot.

The road doesn’t get easier, though.  We next play UE on Wednesday with two athletic imports and Roi Sumang looking for payback. Let’s continue to support the team and give them One Big Fight!