Either I jinx NU whenever I watch their game live, the summer doldrums are in, or NU just isn't that good.
I caught the Bulldogs again yesterday, this time in the Fr. Martin Summer Cup, playing against the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals. Going in, I was curious to see how NU would play against the very tall line-up, highlighted by Yousef Taha. If you remember, versus an import-less JRU Bombers squad, the Bulldogs were outhustled and ultimately done in by a zone after holding a double digit lead.
Same song here.
In the fourth quarter, with a 13-point lead, the Cards managed to go on a sustained run to lead by 6 with two minutes and change to go. From then on out, it became a fight to see who could execute better, the Bulldogs from the field, or the Cardinals from the line. With seconds to go, and the lead down to 3, Parks missed an off-balance triple and Mapua emerged victorious, 69-66
- Great center battle between Emmanuel Mbe and Taha, with Taha the overwhelming victor. In one memorable sequence, Taha enveloped Mbe in the post and the Bulldog couldn't get a shot off or a pass out, turning it over ultimately. Taha's hustle was superb, and when you got a big man diving for the ball, things can't get much better.
- Mbe on the other hand, was sub-par yet again. He was receiving the ball way too far out in the post, and often times facing the basket. Subsequently, he seemed to settle too much for jumpers.
- Ray Ray Parks was amazing for stretches again, but when he sat in the fourth, that was when Mapua uncorked their huge run. He can score in a hurry though and unlike a lot of collegiate players, will try to fish for a foul instead of settling for jumpers.
- What's Kyle Neypes role on this team? He seems to just float around a whole lot, without getting involved in the offense. The one time he gets a shot off, from a nice pick and roll play with Parks, he babies the lay-up.
- Wasn't impressed with any of the point guards' play. Terso seemed to defer too much to Parks, Labing-isa barely got any burn, and Alolino tried to force passes that weren't there.
- Lots of pressure on this squad to make it to the Final Four.