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UAAP Season 77 Team Performances

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The second round of the Season 77 UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament is over and the Final Four games start this Wednesday, September 23. So how did the different teams perform? Let me count the ways…

1. Ateneo- Unbelievable! Who would have thought that Ateneo would top the elimination round? Though they had to go thru the eye of the needle in many of their matches, a win is a win no matter what. No team can count Ateneo out even if leading by 19 points with 7 minutes remaining, as FEU can attest to. This is definitely Kiefer Ravena’s team and wherever Kiefer goes, the team goes.

2. FEU – Surprising! During the pre-season, critics predicted FEU to fight for a Final Four spot. Not the twice-to-beat advantage. With the loss of Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, the team learned how to pass the ball and play like a team. Mike Tolomia has become the new leader of the team and Mac Belo has been a revelation. FEU could have even finished number 1 had they not suffered a meltdown vs Ateneo in the last playing date of the second round.

3. DLSU – Embarrassing! DLSU won it all last year and have even improved their roster for this year. They are 3-deep in every position and were supposed to dominate this year by going 14-0! So what happened? DLSU all season long seemed to be content to win with just enough effort which was dangerous because they were ambushed by Feu and Ateneo to start their season at 0-2. Then they lost Thomas Torres and had other injuries. Why the coaching staff didn’t complete their 16-man roster haunted them. Though they won most of their games after that, they weren’t that dominating. Then, on the night before an important game vs FEU to determine which team gets twice to beat advantage, two key players participate in a fashion show. WTF?! Sorry about that but what stupidity is that! Where are your priorities? If you really had dengue, even a mild one, common sense says it’s best to rest! I guess the money was too big to pass up. And I thought you were student-athletes with a benefactor who takes care of everything. I hope for your sake it was all well worth it.

4. NU – Overachieved. Give credit to Coach Eric Altamirano for molding his players into a cohesive unit despite losing Bobby Ray Parks. This team plays tough defense and is anchored by their import Aroga. NU players are tall and athletic and most of all have learned not to collapse in the endgame. This makes them very dangerous.

5. UE – Regrettable. This pre-season top 2 pick started off at 3-4 then finished with a 6-1 run to force a playoff with NU to determine the fourth placer. Charles Mammie is the best center in the UAAP who dominates games but at times, he disappears too! Roi Sumang is a super-guard but he didn’t play that well this season. Maybe his style of play doesn’t fit the Pumaren system. UE had the momentum going into the do-or-die game but somehow faltered. I give credit to Altamirano out-coaching Pumaren to boot out UE and UE has one year to ponder what to do next.

6. UST- “Sayang.” UST had a chance of entering the Final Four with a core of Abdul, Mariano and Ferrer. Mariano didn’t play well all season. Only God knows why. Then when Kevin Ferrer went down with a season-ending wrist injury, so did the chances of UST. I believe they only beat the teams lower than them. Next year UST has to overhaul their lineup.

7. UP – Forgettable. Their coach predicted 3 wins. And when UP beat Adamson in the first round, it seemed pretty doable. But alas, as games went by, it seemed the most UP could win was two. Then they nearly beat Ateneo had Mikee Reyes converted even one free throw. That would have sent the Final Four standings topsy- turvey and UP would have had a bigger bonfire! But it wasn’t meant to be and they even lost to a determined Adamson squad.

8. Adamson – Hopeful. With 11 rookies and a new coach what could one expect? Maybe 14 losses but just avoid being blown out. Well that really didn’t happen and I’m giving credit to Adamson fans for still coming out to cheer for their young team. Next year they will have more experience playing together and they should win more games.

Fans were treated to many exciting games this UAAP Season 77 and the Final Four seems to be an unpredictable one. Ateneo is number 1 and will play number 4 NU which it hasn’t beaten in two years. And defending champion DLSU needs to beat FEU twice when it has already lost to FEU three straight times. Something’s gotta give and may the best team win!

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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!

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 – UST: Was That A Game Or What?!

Yahoo PH Sports – Kiefer Ravena of Ateneo celebrates after scoring the game-winning basket against UST. (Czeasar Dancel/NPPA Images)

My slightly delayed PAL flight made me miss the first three quarters. As soon as I got on my car, my driver told me that Ateneo was playing and the game was very tight. 15 lead changes. Luckily my home is just 5 minutes away from Silay airport so I caught the last 8 minutes.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that the UST X-Factor is Aljon Mariano. He scored a total of 17 points in the game, including a number of crucial baskets that enabled UST to regain the lead. Good thing he fouled out! Had he been playing in the last 48 seconds, the outcome could have been different. Remember he killed us in the Finals a few years back. Abdul, who later aired his frustration and admitted that his team “lacked focus,” got his usual numbers and had a good game.

This game was too close to call with so many deadlocks and lead changes. Too bad one team had to lose. Kiefer may not have been playing that well but what happens in the end game is what counts. I thought that last play was for Newsome to create since he was holding the ball. I didn’t see Kiefer pop out to get the ball with 8 seconds left. That 15-foot looper over Abdul made the difference.

So I’m grinning from ear-to-ear and I can’t wait to watch the replay on Balls TV. The replay may end late and I have an early start tomorrow but heck, we won and it will be all so worth it. Great game! Everyone was entertained. If you want to relive the game, you can watch the highlights reel here. Heck, why not watch the whole game instead?! Can’t wait for the rematch next round!

But before that, UE naman!

Who will win, Ateneo or UST?

imageAteneo is led by Kiefer Ravena and supported by Chris Newsome and Von Pessumal. UST is led by Mariano, Ferrer and Abdul. If Kiefer plays well, Ateneo has more than a 50% chance of winning. Kiefer has to involve his teammates and the outside sniping must go in, or else Ateneo will be in for a long afternoon.  Ateneo has the deeper bench but its big men must keep the UST big men in check.

The X-Factor for UST will be Aljon Mariano. He has disappeared in his first few games but picked it up this last game. So which Aljon Mariano will we see? That is the question. Kevin Ferrer is a match-up problem for Ateneo and he must have a big game if UST is to have a chance. Abdul is a given. He is strong and will bully his way in the paint. However, UST is a different team without Teng and Pido. They lack the angas that gives them a competitive edge.

This game will have a Final 4 atmosphere and should be a dandy. If I may make a prediction, Ateneo will win a close one but if Aljon Mariano has a monster game, I predict UST will win.