UE

NU Vs. UE : Who Will Advance To the UAAP Final Four

Bulldogs Vs. Red Warriors

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?

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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! ūüôā

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 РOverachieving.  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!

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?) ūüôā ¬† 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. 

Maybe The Best Ateneo Come-From-Behind Victory Ever

Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo De Manila University dribbles between the legs of Renz Palma of University of the East. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

Ok so it’s the first round of the UAAP and Ateneo may have come from even bigger margins before, but for its game against University of the East, Ateneo was playing with a smaller lineup against a team team that had two athletic African imports and an inspired All-Star guard. After the first quarter, I’m sure it seemed to many that Ateneo was going to get steamrolled this game. Everything went UE’s way. Charles Mammie was lording it over everybody. The UE press disrupted the Ateneo offense which led to many turnovers and easy baskets. Roi Sumang was playing well while Kiefer Ravena was 2/9 with 12 points.

Luckily basketball is a tale of two halves. In sports, it’s not how you start but how you finish that counts. An Ateneo recruiter friend mentioned that at the start of the second half, Kiefer had his “Kobe-look” and that would mean problems for UE.

Whatever the Ateneo coaching staff told its players during the break worked big-time. Somehow UE couldn’t get the ball to Mammie down low. The UE press slowed down the Ateneo offense but didn’t result in turnovers anymore. The Ateneo offense started to click under the leadership of Kiefer. The second half became the Ravena-Sumang show leaving the whole arena in awe. With five minutes to go, Ateneo was behind by 12 and down by 6 with 2 minutes to go. ¬†Then Ateneo made it’s run and tied the score at 80-all resulting in the first overtime game this UAAP season. In the extra period¬†it was still the Ravena-Sumang show. Ateneo controlled most of the overtime period and won 93-91. ¬†Ravena had a career high 38 points while Sumang had 30.

UE should be actually performing¬†better than its 2-4 current standing. It’s just that they start strong but somehow in the second half they collapse. This happened to them in their tiff against La Salle. I regard them as a “hard-luck” team because they seem to lose when they should be winning! Somehow their opponents just end the game stronger than them.

At the start of the season, I projected UE to be a Top 3 team behind DLSU and NU with Ateneo, FEU and UST fighting for the last Final Four spot. UE can still make the Final Four but they have to start winning fast! Assuming it takes 8 wins to make it there, they have to win 6 out of their last 8 games.

Ateneo on the other hand is at an enviable 6-1 standing. Their only loss was to a tall and athletic NU team which defended Kiefer well the entire game. I have said before: wherever Kiefer goes, Ateneo will go. The Blue Eagles live and die with the Phenom. For two straight games now he played hero to win close games. Can he do it again in the second round? I hope so with the help of his supporting cast.

Ateneo vs UE: Too close to call

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 Рparticularly the high-flying Newsome, the rookie Tolentino, and sweet-shooting Pessumal Рto 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!