Saturday, May 14, 2011

S73 Autopsy: ADMU Blue Eagles

Outgoing Players
- Eric Salamat (10.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.8 steals)
- Jason Escueta (3.1 points, 2.6 rebounds)
- Carlo Balmaceda

Win/Loss Records

- S73: 10-4 (2nd, champions)
- S72: 13-1 (1st, champions)
- S71: 13-1 (1st, champions)

Key Stats
- First in free throws made per game (15.76) and free throw percentage (69.43%)
- First in defensive rebounds per game (29), and assists (16.41)
- First in opponents' field goals made per game (21.47) and opponents' field goal percentage (33.83%)
- First in opponents' points per game (61.59)
- Last in opponents' three point field goals attempted per game (21.59)

ADMU won its third straight title in S73 (pic source)

Season in a Snapshot
Dubbed even before the season as "The Hardest Year," the Blue Eagles came into the season losing their top three players (Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Nonoy Baclao, Jai Reyes), without any truly outstanding recruits to replace them, the injured Oping Sumalinog, and the departing Vince Burke. After back to back 13-1 seasons, an up and down elimination round that featured two losses to FEU, one to DLSU, and a stunner to UE, made for restless, grumpy, and doubting fans, to say nothing about how they were basically written off by most media people.

In the end though, Ateneo was Ateneo when it mattered, flexing their defensive might in the postseason, when they needed it the most. "The Hardest Year," became "The Sweetest Championship" in the end, as the squad without a superstar or a Top-10 scorer overcame the odds to win its third straight title.

Team Needs
- Reserve depth
- Consistent three-point shooters

With its best recruitment class since 2008, the Blue Eagles have to walk the fine line separating talent from experience. That said, it seems like the decision was made for them, as 2010 Finals MVP Ryan Buenafe, Art Dela Cruz, Jeric Estrada, and Chris De Chavez were all ruled academically ineligible to compete in the summer tournaments. It seems to me that the 16 Ateneo currently has lined-up is a squad they'd be more than happy to go to war with, and should either Buenafe or Dela Cruz come back, I can see Siarot or Pessumal easily sliding down to Team B.

The big challenge for Ateneo will be how they react to being "the team to beat." In past seasons, more attention was given to DLSU (S71) and FEU (S72,73), and the Eagles were able to fly under the radar. This year will be different, Bobby Ray Parks and NU notwithstanding, and Ateneo will enter the season with targets on their backs and great expectations. How they cope under pressure will go a long way towards a possible four-peat.

Projected Recruits

- Greg Slaughter, 7'0" transferee from the University of Cebu, is part of Smart Gilas, and transferred to Ateneo in order to facilitate his practices with the National Team. Since then though, Slaughter has been moved down the Gilas depth chart due to the addition of reinforcements from PBA squads. Moves such as that have paved the way for Slaughter to improve on his big man skills under Coach Norman Black, while at the same time, play as a Blue Eagle
- Kiefer Ravena, 6'0" guard was considered the best recruitment prospect by every university with a basketball team. Ultimately, after a long decision period, "The Phenom" decided to stay with Ateneo
- Mark Tallo, 5'10" point guard was a former CESAFI Juniors MVP. His dribbling skills are unquestionable, but he is expected to transition from being the focal point of a team to a role player
- Gwyne Capacio, 6'2" former DLSZ standout red-shirted his freshman year due to RP Youth U-18 responsibilities. A high school 4, he'll have to adjust to being a 3. Was heavily featured in last year's Unigames, but lost some explosiveness due to a knee injury he suffered in January of this year
- Von Pessumal, 6'2" Blue Eaglet, is considered to be the "Scottie Pippen" to Ravena's "Michael Jordan," which means he'll do a bit of everything, score, pass, and rebound, but it's his defense that got him a spot on this squad
- Paul Siarot, 6'4" Team B call-up, the long-armed Siarot could round out to be an elite shot blocker and defender in the mold of JP Erram
- Oping Sumalinog, 6'2" forward returns after sitting out last year with an ACL injury. Has the game of a guard, but the body of a forward. A relentless defender pre-injury.
- Chris Newsome, 6'2" Fil-Am guard has to sit out two seasons of residency after coming in from a D-II university. Universally described as a high leaper, he could play a point forward role for Coach Black
- Nico Elorde, 5'9" transferee from DLSU, the Blue Eagles coaching staff has always loved this kid and his defense. Will sit out just a year, as DLSU declined to use the "Soc Rivera rule" on him
- Jomar Adornado, 6'1" combo guard, but more importantly, he's a deadeye shooter, but one without conscience. To be fair though, he's probably the main source of offense now on Team B, so he and Newsome can be expected to chuck up more than a few shots

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