Bulldogs Vs. Red Warriors
NU is a tall and athletic team which is well-coached. Before the season started, critics weren’t sure if NU would make the Final Four especially after losing Bobby Ray Parks. With the emergence of Troy Rosario and the dominance of Aroga, the NU Bulldogs overachieved and could have even placed third had they beaten DLSU. Now they have to play a surging UE red Warriors to even make it to the Final Four. Oh what a precarious situation for them.
Like NU, the UE Red Warriors have two athletic imports and their man-child Charles Mammie has been on a tear lately. UE was projected during the preseason to be as high as number 2 but somehow stumbled during the first round. UE started at 3-4 and after making some adjustments, have been on a 6-1 roll ever since. The Pumaren full-court press that got the players so tired they had nothing left, was tempered til the last quarter. Charles Mammie began to start games; his minutes and numbers are up. I guess some people aren’t effective when they come off the bench. And the emergence of Bong Galanza has given UE a third scoring threat that has Ben paying huge dividends for them.
As you can surmise, I predict UE to advance to the Final Four over NU given that both teams play as expected. Mammie should play better than Aroga. Roi Sumang should be able to do his thing. Maybe Troy Rosario and Bong Galanza will cancel each other out. For NU, it now depends on how Coach Eric Altamirano can adjust and outcoach Derrick Pumaren. Maybe UE win by less than 7 points?
Kiefer Ravena and Roi Sumang from UAAP season 76. Photo by Rappler/Mark Marcaida
Ateneo is at 5-1 while UE is at 2-3. So the result of this game should be a no-brainer right? Wrong! Ateneo has been playing relatively well and has found ways to win versus tough opponents. UE, I believe has been playing below par because their PG Roi Sumang hasn’t produced (he is averaging “just” 15 ppg but has turned over the ball at an average of 3.8 per game) and somehow Coach Derek Pumaren hasn’t been able to get the most out of his two athletic African imports.
This is going to be another game that is too close to call. Definitely whoever has the player advantage will emerge victorious. While Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena is having a monstrous season with 20.8 ppg, this could be the game where Sumang explodes. For Ateneo, it will be up to the other players – particularly the high-flying Newsome, the rookie Tolentino, and sweet-shooting Pessumal – to provide the outside sniping. Their big men will have to find a way to contain the UE African imports namely, Arafat and Mammie. Ateneo is a relatively small team and they have difficulty against teams with two athletic imports. It will be interesting to see how Ateneo will handle the UE press. For UE, the imports will have to bully their way inside the paint and their role players need to make their outside shots.
I admit my heart bleeds blue so I would still tag Ateneo for the win, though probably by a bucket. But if UE plays well and dominates the inside, oh well…heaven forbid!