Sunday, July 31, 2011


History Lesson:
In a series between two storied NCAA schools with a history for winning, it was San Beda that did all of that last season, beating Letran in both encounters by fairly large margins. In the first round, the backcourt of Garvo Lanete and Borgie Hermida combined for 38 points to dispatch Letran 77-60, as only Franz Dysam managed to finish in double-digit scoring for the Knights, with 11 points. The second round meeting was pretty similar, only this time it was Rome Dela Rosa providing the firepower, scoring 19, with Sudan Daniel and Jake Pascual helping out with some muscle down low. Kevin Alas led the Knights with 18 points, but his 9 turnovers helped the Red Lions establish a 23-14 advantage in turnover points, helping San Beda score 74, to just 56 by Letran.

SBC Storyline : The Red Lions have cleared their schedule of all the lightweights, leaving Letran, JRU, Mapua and San Sebastian on their first round "to beat" list. Save for the St. Benilde game, San Beda was barely challenged, and so a mindset change might be necessary for the defending champions, as coach Frankie Lim said after their beatdown of EAC. The time for "polishing" their game is over, now they have to go out and show they can beat the other top teams in the NCAA without Su Daniel.
Stat to Watch : As described by Coach Lim himself, San Beda basketball boils down to two things: turnover points and fastbreak points. The Red Lions are second only to JRU in the first, with 20.6 a game (to 21.2 for the Heavy Bombers), and lead the latter, averaging 21.2, the only team with a 20 point average in that category.
Player to Watch : Dave Marcelo hasn't had a dominating double-double performance yet, as the Red Lions split minutes at the center and power forward positions between five players, but odds are, he'll get a nice long stint matched up against either Raymond Almazan or Jam Cortes. Marcelo's averaged just 8.2 points and 8.8 rebounds, but it'll be his blocks that will make things interesting. He currently averages 2.2 swats a game.

CSJL Storyline : The Knights figured in a bizarre 112-91 game against the St. Benilde Blazers, two teams not normally known for putting a ton of points on the board. But as head coach Louie Alas said after the game, "We can't defend that way against San Beda." So for this game, it'll be back to basics for the Knights: pressure defense to get points through turnovers, coupled with strong rebounding. With their 4-1 record, Letran looks like an early favorite for a Final Four spot, but they need to show that they have a chance against San Beda and San Sebastian, whom they already lost to, in order to give their team a morale boost, headed into the second round.  There's a strong possibility that they'll have to go out and play without reserve forward Junjun Alas though, due to his ejection versus Benilde. That makes it critical for the big men to avoid useless fouls.
Stat to Watch : For all of San Beda's brilliance in turnover and fastbreak points, Letran is no slouch in those two fields either. They're third in turnover points with 18.4, and second in fastbreak points with 10.67. We could be in for a very fast-paced game if both teams get to do what they want to do. That said, the prudent thing for Letran to do might be just to ape what Saint Benilde did in their near-win, playing good zone defense, while tracking down the rebounds to run them back at San Beda.
Player to Watch : Kevin Alas will need a standout game, not just in pure numbers (he averages 15.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 2 steals), but in efficiency as well (42% from the field and 3.2 turnovers a game). By himself, he cannot defeat San Beda, and if he commits a ton of errors, the Red Lions will take advantage of it and pressure him all day. Team basketball will be needed to dethrone the defending champs, and Alas will need to buy into that concept if they're going to win.

Prediction: SBC Red Lions


History Lesson:
The Chiefs and the Cardinals split their two meetings last season, with Mapua drawing first blood, courtesy of a 36-23 first half lead that they never relinquished. Behind strong performances by Macky Acosta and Erwin Cornejo, Mapua bucked 16 turnover points by Arellano, winning 73-51. The second meeting between these two in Season 86 was more dramatic, and much tighter, with Arellano finishing on top, 76-72, behind 21 points by Ronnel Del Rosario. Erwin Cornejo's 29 points were wasted, and a brawl nearly broke out at the end of the game.

MIT Storyline : The Cardinals finally got win number one, against an undermanned EAC team that had nobody to guard the interior, especially when fouls began to be dealt. The question now though is whether or not the victory will be a launching point for Mapua, or if it was just a random fluke. If the Cardinals still have aspirations of making the Final Four, it better be the former, as they have a lot of ground to make up, and matches with San Beda and San Sebastian to come before the first round is over.
Stat to Watch : Mapua makes and takes the most triples in the league, averaging 6.4 makes off 22.6 attempts per game, for a 28.32% clip. Good news for them though, the Arellano Chiefs possess the worst field goal defense in the league, allowing teams to make 48.55% of their shots, including 37.86% of their triples, thanks to their fondness for the zone defense. If the Chiefs allow guys like Jonathan Banal and Josan Nimes to find their rhythm, this could be over early for Arellano.
Player to Watch : Making their first win sweeter for the Cardinals was the fact that they didn't need to rely too heavily on rookie Yousef Taha, who actually finished with a poor showing, 6 points on 2 of 6 shooting, plus 4 rebounds. Given the thinness of Arellano's rotation, let alone their front court, expect Taha to bounce back in a big way, as long as he doesn't find himself embroiled in conflict with Gerald Lapuz.

AU Storyline : The Arellano Chiefs have continued to regress after a 5th place finish in 2009. But if last season's 6-10 finish, after an 8-10 debut, was a step back, this 1-4 start must be several backwards bounds. Part of the reason for their failure is, as I keep mentioning, an over-reliance on a zone defense that every team in the league seems to have figured out, as seen by the percentages they're shooting when playing Arellano. Coupled with a seemingly nonexistent bench, which appears to be a move made by choice, with head coach Leo Isaac looking to give the majority of the minutes to his starters, all of whom average more than 30 minutes, and it's easy to see why this team often comes up short in the second half.
Stat to Watch : One of the prescribed ways to beat a zone defense is ball movement, swinging the ball from side to side, or from side to a big man in the gaps of the zone, to get an easy look. Clearly, the other teams are well aware of this, as they've averaged 23.4 assists against the Chiefs, a high in the NCAA. That means the Chiefs are possibly not rotating fast enough to cover the open man, or that they need to be a bit more disruptive, whether that means gambling for steals or collapsing on certain guys to force turnovers for easy points.
Player to Watch : Given the fact that teams have been focusing on stopping Andrian Celada, a Mythical Five selection from last season, Vergel Zulueta has gotten the benefit of more than a few open looks. He's leading Arellano in scoring, with 17.8 points, while shooting 49% from the field, while also pulling down 4.4 rebounds and dishing out 3.4 assists. With him and Allan Mangahas on the other side, it's safe to say we can expect a shootout from these two players.

Prediction: Mapua Cardinals

One Day Later: UP vs ADMU, UST vs FEU

Bigger than you - Alinko Mbah was neutralized by Greg Slaughter (pic source)

ADMU 77 - UP 57
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : This guy who wears #15 on Ateneo is pretty good. Have you heard of him? He finished with a game-high 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting, plus a 4 for 4 stint at the free throw line. The dude also added 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in just 26 minutes of play. And he's a rookie? Wow, he may have a future in this league. 

UP Stat to Watch : Ateneo did a good job of preventing the run, with good transition defense, to prevent UP from scoring a ton of fastbreak points. From their average of 20.67 a game, UP only had 12 today, spread evenly throughout the game. It's no mystery then why they only scored 57 points the entire game.
UP Player to Watch : Mike Gamboa started out hot, scoring 8 points on 3 of 5 shooting with 2 assists in the first quarter. But that was all she wrote for the former Eaglet, as he couldn't connect with the basket in the remaining three quarters, and only tallied one more assist.

ADMU Stat to Watch : Despite having a foul-less Alinko Mbah shadow Greg Slaughter for much of the game, the Blue Eagles still managed to play some shut-down defense. Not only did they hold UP to just 33.3% on 2-point baskets (20% on triples), they also allowed just 22 points in the paint, on 40.74% shooting, well in excess of the already gaudy defensive numbers the Eagles put up.
ADMU Player to Watch : Justin Chua was blah again, finishing with 2 points on 1 of 3 shooting, and 2 rebounds. Save for Tonino Gonzaga's outside sniping and hustle, the bench was a nonentity once again, with even Juami Tiongson missing in action. Coach Norman Black hinted that he might make some adjustments, which means we could see him experiment with a line-up change versus UST in preparation for their end of round one game versus FEU.

Other Stats:
  • The Maroons did a pretty solid job on the offensive glass, getting 15 to just 6 by the Eagles. They couldn't convert on the second chances though, as both sides finished with 4 second chance points each.
  • After scoring 21 points in the first quarter on 47.06% shooting, Ateneo held UP to quarter outputs of 10, 12 and 14 points, with the Maroons shooting 22.64% in that stretch. 
  • All five of Ateneo's starters scored in double-digits, while UP had not a single Maroon with more than 8.

Everybody loves Cris, especially after he made the game-winning triple (pic source)

FEU 62 - UST 59
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Two-part credit here, with the first going to RR Garcia, for making the smart basketball play and passing out of a double team. It's possible that if he attempted a layup, it would have gone in, but Garcia was unselfish in the moment and placed the team over individual accolades. The second goes to Cris Tolomia, who sank the open triple without any hesitation. Tolomia also gets credit for a good all-around game, 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals. Garcia finished with 9 points, 5 boards, and 4 dimes.

UST Stat to Watch : The switch to a slower paced, grind-it-out game meant UST often settled for halfcourt plays instead of forcing the issue in transition. As a side effect, they also didn't gamble for the steal as often as before. They finished with just 4, down from their 7.67 average and scored just 12 turnover points, also down from 20.
UST Player to Watch : Though Karim Abdul couldn't put the ball in the basket (1 of 7 from the field), he certainly made sure it didn't fall in either on the other side, getting 11 rebounds an swatting 2 shots. That includes a big denial late in the game, and also the taking of the jump ball that let Fortuna tie the game.

FEU Stat to Watch : Normally one of the best at stopping triples, allowing 17% only coming into this game, the Tams helped UST along to a 31.6% game from beyond the arc, making 6 of their 19 attempts. They did manage to stop on person in particular, Kevin Ferrer, who was a paltry 1 of 6 from the field.
FEU Player to Watch : Despite the slower pace, Christian Sentcheu didn't see a whole lot of play, probably also because FEU did not zone as often. The 6'10" giant finished with just 2 rebounds and no points in 7 minutes of play. Looks like, the tactic they used against NU will be placed in a mental folder marked "in case of emergency only," in Coach Flores' mind.

Other Stats:
  • A lot of times, UST's play often devolved into 1 on 1, player versus player offense. When they did run a couple of plays or screens to get shooters open, the shots just weren't dropping. That's reflected in their stats, with just 7 assists to their name, compared to 17 for FEU.
  • Marked from the start, Aldrech Ramos and RR Garcia combined for just 8 of 21 shooting, and only 19 points, as Abdul and Jeric Teng respectively did quite a number defensively on them. 

UAAP Picking Record: 14-4


History Lesson:
The Falcons and the Bulldogs have a history of being two bad teams, especially when you go back a decade or two, but were very competitive last season, in the entire league and against each other. In round one, projected as a match between foreign players Emmanuel Mbe of NU and Austin Manyara of ADU, the game turned out to be more of a veterans session, as Jan Colina and Janus Lozada did battle with Kokoy Hermosisima and Mervin Baloran. The x-factor though, was then-sophomore Eric Camson coming off the bench with 13 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Falcons edge the Bulldogs 60-54. In round two, then-NU head coach Eric Gonzales did a strange thing, reversing his starters and bench players, giving guys like Marion Magat, Jerome Tungcul, and Jeoffrey Javillonar the start over Mbe and company. The tactic knocked Adamson off-balance, and allowed the Bulldogs to win, 62-59.

ADU Storyline : The Falcons are on a roll, and seem like legitimate threats to reach the Finals. The early attack has been the secret to their success, but we've yet to see a team punch them back after the initial blow. Will the Falcons crumble after their 10-0 run is erased by a 14-2 reprisal? We don't know yet, and the Falcons don't either. Adamson also hasn't been tested in a down to the wire game since their season opener against Ateneo either, where they were shut down over the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter. Of course, they can't work on these things when they're blowing out competitors left and right...
Stat to Watch : Proof of the Falcons' ferocious first quarter smackdowns: Adamson averages 18 first quarter points, while holding opponents to just 11.5 in the first quarter, a 6.5 differential that's larger than anything the other teams throw out there. We saw against La Salle that NU has difficulty catching up to big leads, owing to a lack of firepower, so any fast start by the Falcons could prove fatal to the Bulldogs.
Player to Watch : While much focus has been given to Lester Alvarez's shooting prowess or temporary lack of at the start of the season, the guy who alternately starts and backs him up, Jerick Canada, has been quietly having a pretty solid season as well. While not as prolific on the scoring side of things (4.3 points on 29.41% shooting), Canada does a lot of other things, getting 3 rebounds a game, 0.8 steals, and a whopping 4.5 assists, second in the league to UST's Jeric Fortuna. Behind such a one-two punch at the point guard position, it's no wonder Adamson is so good at getting out to big leads, regardless of who starts. 

NU Storyline : The Bulldogs fall to 1 and 4 with their loss to the Archers, putting their chances of getting to the Final Four in a precarious situation. If they max out, that puts them at 10-4, a highly unlikely situation. But with so many competitive teams, 9-5 might be the bare minimum needed, with 8-6 having an outside chance if they get into a favorable tie with another team. And even before you can start talking about seeding, one must consider if the Bulldogs are any good at all, or if there's something horribly wrong with the offensive scheme being implemented. The fact that the team played much better with Parks on the bench says something, as does the huge regression being experienced right now by Emmanuel Mbe.
Stat to Watch : The NU Bulldogs shoot just 59.60 field goals a game, the only team to average below 60 attempts. While part of that is because they average the least offensive rebounds in the league (just 10.8), it's also because they turn it over the most, with 20 a game, a flaw the Bulldogs have not been able to shake off no matter who the head coach is. If they continue to be that sloppy against the Falcons, then it's doubtful they'll be able to break their three game slide.
Player to Watch : Remember when Joseph Terso was, not astounding, but pretty solid? He averaged 7.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and half a steal last season in 26.6 minutes quarterbacking a solid NU team. This season, not only have his minutes dropped to 21.4 a game, despite being perhaps the most veteran player on this squad, his numbers have also dropped to just 3.6 points and 1.4 assists per game (though his rebounds and steals have risen to 2.6 and 1.2 respectively). He also looks just lost out there at times, lacking any aggression or desire to really make a play. If he continues to struggle, odds are we might see more minutes of Gelo Alolino who at least is willing to try to shoot the ball.

Prediction: ADU Falcons


History Lesson:
Current DLSU head coach fought his old team twice last season, and actually split the series between these two squads. In round one, the Archers got a breakout 10 point, 8 rebound, 6 block performance from Papot Paredes. That, combined with 16 points from Maui Villanueva and 15 from Sam Marata, was more than enough to trump the 25 points of Paul Lee, DLSU winning in a blowout, 82-63. Round two was much different though, because this time Paul Lee brought help. The UE senior guard troika of Lee, Raffy Reyes, and James Martinez combined for 49 points, and despite Paredes having another good showing, 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks, beat DLSU 80-74.

DLSU Storyline : The Archers have positioned themselves at .500 after four games, and are aching to end the round on the positive side of things. This team is still wildly inconsistent though, especially on the offense. Last Thursday's game was the best example of this, as the Archers got out to a blistering hot start, shooting 60-plus percent at the half, before missing all of their field goals in the third, and the first five in the fourth quarter. The good news though is that coach Dindo Pumaren may have found an optimal starting five to build around: LA Revilla, Simon Atkins, Joseph Marata, Maui Villanueva, Arnold Van Opstal. The one fly in that ointment has been the (non)shooting of Atkins (18.52%), but at least he makes up for it somewhat on defense. 
Stat to Watch : What was unusual about La Salle's Jekyll and Hyde shooting performance against the NU Bulldogs was the fact that they went ice cold against the league's worst defense, as NU allows their opponents 42% shooting. UE's a tad better, allowing 38% shooting, but the Archers should still beware of extended scoring droughts, as UE might take better advantage of any 0/10 quarters from DLSU.
Player to Watch : Since claiming the starting power forward position, Maui Villanueva has been on a tear, putting up numbers similar to his production from last season. In the two games he's been in the first five, he's averaged 7.5 points on 46% shooting, 8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 0.8 blocks in just 20 minutes. He's an excellent match-up against the smaller UE forwards who rely more on athleticism than brute strength.

UE Storyline : The Red Warriors sank to 0-5 thanks to another blowout loss, this time to the Adamson Soaring Falcons. There's truly not a lot one can say about this squad, except that head coach Jerry Codinera is desperately trying to see who can play and who can't by fielding in all sorts of odd combinations. The problem is, none are really working, and while there is a big difference between the summer tournaments and the UAAP, shouldn't all of this experimentation had been done a few months ago (of course, case in point, RR De Leon didn't see a single minute of play in the Fil-Oil tournament, now he's started two games).
Stat to Watch : The Red Warriors have not been having a lot of success on offense, averaging a league-worst 57.2 points a game, the only team to average less than 60 points in fact, and part of the problem stems from an inability to hit outside shots. The Warriors average just 1.8 triples out of 13 attempts a game, for a ridiculous 14% for downtown. That allows opponents to just pack the paint, cutting off driving lanes, and making UE take contested mid-range jumpers. 
Player to Watch : It's surprising to me that Adrian Santos has not been getting more minutes, averaging just 20.6 a game despite putting up 6.2 points on 50% shooting and 7.4 rebounds. The fact is, aside from Roi Sumang (22 minutes), Chris Javier (22.6 minutes) and Paul Zamar (24.2) minutes, no other Red Warriors averages 21 or higher. Coach Jerry Codinera ought to experiment with giving players longer stints to see how they react. It's not like he has anything to lose at this point right?

Prediction: DLSU Green Archers

Friday, July 29, 2011

One Day Later: EAC vs SBC, UPHSD vs CSB

Hail to the conquering hero - Garvo Lanete kicks back after scoring 32 points (pic source)

SBC 103 - EAC 62
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Garvo Lanete was the first Red Lion on the scoring board, breaking a four minute San Beda drought, so it's appropriate that he was still in at the end of the game (if he got injured, then I would have said the complete opposite). The senior hotshot finished with 32 points, going 5 of 10 from downtown, and 8 of 10 from inside the arc. He also had five rebounds and four steals, having no difficulties with the 2-3 zone EAC put up.

EAC Stat to Watch : Turnovers were once again the Generals' downfall, with many of their 24 turnovers coming unforced. There were plenty of times when the ball handler of EAC just threw the ball away, either throwing into traffic, or to a teammate who was no longer there. Off those 24 errors, San Beda was able to get out and run to the tune of 26 turnover points.
EAC Player to Watch : Jan Jamon had far from an efficient game, scoring just 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting. Jamon rushed a lot of his shots, usually to avoid a San Beda defender, and clearly it affected his stroke.

SBC Stat to Watch : Scoring wasn't a problem for San Beda was the Red Lions hit the century mark late in the fourth quarter, making up for the anemic offensive performance against St. Benilde. They also held EAC to just 62 points, while getting huge advantages in fastbreak and turnover points.
SBC Stat to Watch : Surprisingly, Baser Amer came off the bench in this game, and produced an all-around game of 11 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. He shot fifty percent from the field, 5 of 10, but there were some attempts you clearly saw had no chance of going in when he launched them. Better shot selection might be the next thing to learn on this talented rook's list.

Other Stats: 
  • San Beda finished with 34 fastbreak points, compared to 10 for EAC, and 26 turnover points, versus just 6 for the Generals.
  • EAC scored just 27 points in the second half, while giving up 51 to the Red Lions.

Runaway train - the Altas were powerless to stop Paolo Taha (pic source)

CSB 88 - UPHSD 83
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Scottie Thompson produced a good argument to be the second scoring option on this Perpetual Help Altas team, finishing with 23 points on 9 of 12 shooting, to go with five rebounds, an assist and a steal. 11 of his points came in the fourth quarter, but unfortunately, so did 1 of his 2 turnovers, in which one of his passes went awry, forcing the Altas to foul and put Tim McCoy on the line. Luckily the former Dolphin missed both, but that was a scoring opportunity they sorely needed at that point (and thus, the reason why we left it at "second option").

UPHSD Stat to Watch : Turnovers were few in this game, save for two crucial errors late for Perpetual Help. But as for turnover points helping a team create a lead, then weren't a whole lot, as predicted. The Blazers turned it over just 13 times, for 9 turnover points by the Altas. On the flipside, Perps made 12 miscues, which St. Benilde converted into 6 points.
UPHSD Player to Watch : Jeorge Allen helped give the Altas back some scoring punch and toughness down low, providing 12 points on 5 of 10 shooting, and six rebounds. It's a good start after missing four games for Perpetual Help, which badly missed his contributions.

CSB Stat to Watch : Though Saint Benilde had just 11 offensive rebounds, the Blazers made the most of all of them, scoring 15 second chance points. Meanwhile, the Altas, despite the boost from Jeorge Allen, hauled down just 10 repossessions, far from their average of 16.
CSB Player to Watch : Carlo Lastimosa was chided for not having an assist against Letran by his head coach, and the sophomore responded with 13 points and 5 assists, helping get the ball to scorers like  Paolo Taha, Jan Tan and Jonathan Grey. As Del Rosario pointed out, CSB is much deeper team than last season, with more scoring options. If Lastimosa can act as a decoy and then move the ball to open guys, they become a lot deadlier and harder to beat.

Other Stats:
  • This game featured very little defense, with both sides basically swapping baskets. Case in point, the Blazers shot 57% from the field, while the Altas nearly hit half their shots, finishing at 49%
  • Maybe it's as simple as this: CSB had five different players finish in double-digit scoring, with Anton Altamirano narrowly missing out with 9 points. Perpetual Help only had four in double digits.

NCAA Picking Record: 18-9


History Lesson:
The UST Growling Tigers fell twice to the super-potent FEU offense in Season 73. In round one, the Tams leaned on a 20-12 fourth quarter and a 21-10 advantage in second chance points to overwhelm the Tigers, beating them 65-57, as RR Garcia exploded for 22 points. UST got the better of the Tamaraws in terms of the hustle point categories in round two, but this time it was Aldrech Ramos' turn to come up big, posting 21 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists that proved to be more than what the Tigers could handle, as they fell 76-67.

UST Storyline : The Tigers ran into an Adamson Falcons buzz saw that hit them early, 16-5, but the plucky UST squad did their best to avoid a double-digit blowout, getting 21 turnover points to just 11 by Adamson, and big efforts from bench bigs Karim Abdul (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Melo Afuang (14 points on 6/6 shooting). That nearly, but didn't quite, make up for poor showings by Jeric Fortuna and Kevin Ferrer (17 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists combined).
Stat to Watch : Here's an early surprise, UST is currently second in the league in steals per game, with 7.67, which in turn allows them to lead the turnover points stat, with 20 turnover points scored per game, roughly 28% of their offensive output. If the Tigers can get out and score before FEU can set up their defense, there's a good chance for them to steal this win.
Player to Watch : Flagrant foul aside, Karim Abdul was a pretty solid inside presence for the Tigers versus the Falcons, providing 13 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. I can see him taking Aldrech Ramos for stretches or Christian Sentcheu if the Tams opt to go tall again. The person I'd want him to avoid is Mark Bringas, as you do not want these two hotheads to go at each other.

FEU Storyline : After falling flat against Adamson, the Tams righted their ship by blowing out UE and blunting the NU offense in the fourth quarter. As of right now, FEU is still a work in progress, as admitted by coach Bert Flores himself. But all of that experimenting allowed them to try out and succeed with a 2-3 zone anchored by Christian Sentcheu down low. By the time the Final Four comes around, Flores might have a deep bag of tricks to reach into to surprise whichever team they match up against.
Stat to Watch : In the face of the Tigers taking the third-most triple attempts in the league (17 a game, behind ADU and UP), it's a good thing that FEU is the best team at shutting down the three-ball, allowing just 17% shooting from downtown. If the Tamaraws succeed at this, they'll be the second team in a row (Adamson was first) to lock down UST from beyond the arc, forcing them to go inside where they're not as comfortable or used to playing.
Player to Watch : Christian Sentcheu played his best game so far, getting 14 minutes and finishing with 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. Most of those minutes came in the fourth quarter as well, showing how much Flores trusted him to protect the interior. We'll see if a repeat performance is in order versus the Tigers, and if he does well, then perhaps FEU will have found the player to take cousin Pipo Noundou's minutes.

Prediction: FEU Tamaraws


History Lesson:
The Eagles had no problems defeating last season's victory-less Maroons, handing them a pair of big defeats. Round one saw Ateneo post a 25-point win, 78-53, with Eric Salamat dishing out nine steals and swiping four times, and Nico Salva taking charge of the scoring with 18 points to his name. The margin of victory was smaller in round two, just 16 points, 75-59, but this time it was big man Justin Chua dominating inside with 16 points, and Emman Monfort providing the outside support, with a monster statline of 23 points, 5 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

UP Storyline : After the warm glow of reaching their first win in a very long time, UP fans now have to come to grips with the possibility that this teams is just a rung or two better than last season's incarnation. Though one can probably argue for hours as to whether this team is more talented than last season's, one thing is for sure, the Season 74 Maroons are not as deep, especially scoring-wise. Anything they get beyond the quartet of Mike Silungan, Mike Gamboa, Jett Manuel and Jelo Montecastro is a bonus.
Stat to Watch : The Maroons are heavily dependent on getting out in transition, leading the league in fastbreak points, with 20.67 a game, almost 31% of their average points per game. This of course, causes some awkwardness when they miss multiple wide open layups, which is what they did versus DLSU, but if they connect more consistently, for sure that number is going to balloon upwards.
Player to Watch : Mike Gamboa has always been a bit of an inconsistent player, vacillating between stud point guard and turnover machine. So far this season, turnovers haven't been a problem, totaling just 4 in three games. Instead, it's his shot that's been wildly off. After a great start against UE (19 points, 6/15 shooting), he's been on a downward slide, getting 9 versus NU, and then just 3 versus DLSU. Overall, he's shooting just 36.67% from the field, relying too much on his jumper, instead of driving down the lane (just 7 free throw attempts all season). As a former Eaglet, odds are, he'll want to have a good game against his former school, but such things can sometimes backfire, with the player trying to do too much.

ADMU Storyline : The Eagles survived something of a scare when they managed just a 28-25 halftime lead versus UE, but they managed to right the ship in the third quarter, allowing them to field in their bench in the fourth quarter. Ateneo knows a thing or two about the need to put away lower tier teams early, and have a special case study in which UP stars. In Season 72, the Eagles suffered their one and only loss in the regular season at the hands of a determined Maroons squad that blew them out of the game with multiple triples in the third quarter, 68-58. With a good number of players from that loss still on the roster, vets like Kirk Long, Nico Salva and Emman Monfort are bound to do their best to make sure that doesn't happen again.
Stat to Watch : How do you quantify the impact of having Greg Slaughter guard the shaded lane beyond blocks? The Eagles allow the second-fewest points, just 61.5 a game, and they do so by holding opponents to just 36.04% percent on two-point baskets, and 42.74% on points in the paint, tops in the league in those stats.
Player to Watch : Justin Chua hasn't adjusted very well to coming off the bench again after getting the nod to start down the stretch last season, when he averaged 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 19.5 minutes. He's only scored 6 points in 4 games, on putrid 13.33% field goal shooting, despite usually being the go-to guy of Ateneo's bench quintet. The Eagles would love for him to get his groove back, and a height-challenged team like UP gives him a good opportunity to do just that (of course, an argument could be made that the game against UE should have allowed him to do that as well...)

Prediction: ADMU Blue Eagles

One Day Later: ADU vs UE, NU vs DLSU

Send in the the reserves - Adamson's starters got a nice rest after blowing out UE early (pic source)

ADU 85 - UE 54
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Lester Alvarez finally broke out of a mini-slump in which he averaged just 7 points and a trey per game on 21.21% field goal shooting, 20% from downtown. With the mediocre UE perimeter defense basically begging him to shoot, Alvarez bombed away to the tune of 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting, 4 of 6 from downtown. He also added 3 assists and 2 steals, while playing just 19 minutes.

ADU Stat to Watch : In the battle between Adamson, a team that prevents opponents from rebounding at a high rate, and UE, a team that gobbles up rebounds, Adamson won out, holding UE to fewer than 40 rebounds for the first time all season, with just 37, while picking up 45 boards of their own. Adamson also won the offensive rebound battle as well, picking up 22 to UE's 17.
ADU Player to Watch : Eric Camson had 9 points and 4 rebounds in a quiet night, though he obviously didn't need to put up huge numbers, given the blowout nature of the game.

UE Stat to Watch : The Falcons blew out the Red Warriors quite comprehensively. Not only did the Falcons score 15 points more than their average going in, they held UE  to four less points than their average. Anchored by 10 steals, the Falcons were able to get their transition attack going, putting points on their board, while denying the Red Warriors opportunities to score.
UE Player to Watch : RR De Leon played just 13 minutes, scoring 4 points and pulling down 3 rebounds in a blah performance, but both baskets were off mid-range jumpers, which could help UE space the floor in the future.

Other Stats:
  • As mentioned, Adamson got 10 steals, which led to 20 turnovers for UE and 26 turnover points for the Falcons.
  • The Soaring Falcons have held opponents to an average of just 10 points in the first quarter, over their last three games, while scoring 20 themselves. Talk about your quick-strike offense!

One-man wrecking machine - Glenn Khobuntin scored all the points but it wasn't enough for NU (photo source)

DLSU 74 - NU 63
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Player of the Game : Though he did arguably a poor job distributing the ball today, finishing with just 1 assist, LA Revilla was once again the man, top-scoring for the Archers with 19 points, plus adding 5 rebounds and 6 big steals.

NU Stat to Watch : NU managed not to get blown out on the boards today, losing that category by just two rebounds, 37-11. Similarly, the offensive rebound battle was close, and the Bulldogs lost that by just three, 11 to 8. NU also managed to double DLSU's second chance points, 6 to 3.
NU Player to Watch : One year after posting huge, almost MVP-worthy numbers, Emmanuel Mbe is a forgotten man on this NU squad. With Parks riding the bench, NU chose not to go to the big man down low and hope his experience and brute strength could help him score over Arnold Van Opstal. Instead, Bulldogs went with several one on one plays, hoping to out-athlete the DLSU defenders, which didn't work out so well down the stretch. All in all, Mbe had just 6 points and 5 boards in 31 minutes. It's safe to say he probably wasn't very happy after the game.

DLSU Stat to Watch : In spite of a 0/10 third quarter that may go down in infamy over at Taft, La Salle still managed to finish the game shooting 44.3% from the field, a high for this season, owing perhaps to the hot start and multiple scoring runs they were able to string together. Their strength on the offensive glass was negated though, as mentioned above.
DLSU Player to Watch : Yutien Andrada had a poor outing, surprisingly unable to contain the mobile bigs of NU like Glenn Khobuntin. In 17 minutes, he finished with just a point, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Part of the problem was that coach Pumaren continues to experiment with Andrada at the small forward spot, not exactly a good move against NU.

Other Stats
  • DLSU entered halftime shooting 65.71% from the field, an insanely high number. A 4/26 performance, 15.38%, in the second half dropped that to the 44.3% they finished with.
  • The quality of Bobby Ray Parks' performances continues to slip. He finished today with 13 points, on 3 of 9 shooting, 7 of 14 from the line, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers and 4 fouls. Entering this game, Parks was hitting 78.57% of his free throws and had just 9 turnovers in four games. Clearly he was taken out of his element by the DLSU defense.

UAAP Picking Record: 12-4

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    NCAA S87: UPHSD vs CSB

    History Lesson:
    The University of Perpetual Help Altas "graciously" provided two of CSB's five wins last season, with Arellano being the only other squad the Blazers were able to sweep. In the first round, a battle between two shooty guards broke out, with Carlo Lastimosa's 21 points edging Jett Vidal's 19. Though Arnold Danganan managed to lead all scorers with 22 points, Benilde had four other players in double-digits aside from Lastimosa, helping them secure the 79-70 win. Vidal bounced back to outscore Lastimosa in the second round though, 20-15, but he was the lone bright spot for the Altas, as once again, last season's rookie of the year had the benefit of better help, with Tim McCoy and Marc De Guzman providing 14 and 13 points, respectively.

    UPHSD Storyline : The Altas finally notched win number one, despite the odds being stacked against them, in the form of injuries, fouled out players, and taller defenders. But Perpetual Help coach Jimwell Gican is hoping that the squad isn't content yet, and uses the win as motivation to go out and get more victories. CSB will still boast of a slightly taller line-up, but the Altas are hoping that the grit they showed in defeating JRU carries over, and lifts them once again.
    Stat to Watch : The Altas capitalized on 32 JRU turnovers by scoring 25 points off them, a high for Perpetual Help all-season. They can't rely on free points from CSB in the same way though, as the Blazers are tied with San Beda in fewest turnovers per game, with just 16.8 errors a game. On the bright side, the Blazers also force the fewest turnovers, just 16.2 a game.
    Player to Watch : Jeorge Allen surprised everyone by coming off the bench in the second overtime to lead the Altas to their first victory, scoring the game-winning layup. It remains to be seen though if that was a "hail mary" sort of play by the Altas, putting Allen in because of a lack of other personnel, or if Allen is ready to play extended minutes once again. He averaged 10.4 points and 4.87 rebounds last season, production the Altas sorely missed in his absence.

    CSB Storyline : The Blazers got themselves into a higher scoring back and forth game that saw themselves peter out towards the end. Not a good idea when you have another game two days later. The good news for CSB so far this season is that they've found Carlo Lastimosa a ton of help, in the form of new additions Jonathan Grey, Paolo Taha, and Mark Romero. The problem is Grey and Taha are both SG/SFs, while Romero is an SF/PF, which means that unless they're willing to go extremely small, there's no way for all of them to be on the court all the same time. And why would they want to be on the court all at the same time? Because big men Jan Tan, Ian Dela Paz and Tim McCoy have been giving them next to nothing, including in the rebounding categories, that's why.
    Stat to Watch : The Blazers are dead last when it comes to offensive rebounds. They're last in getting them, pulling down just 9.4 a game, and they're also last in giving them up, allowing opponents on average 21 in each encounter. Surprisingly, despite the lack of any real height, Perpetual Help gets 16 offensive rebounds a game, good for fourth place, while conceding just 14.8 repossessions. The three aforementioned big men have to do a better job, especially when the guys you're lined up against, are about the same height as you are.
    Player to Watch : Carlo Lastimosa's scoring might be down a bit to just 16.8 points a game, but he's attacking the rim and trooping to the line more often, getting 9, 4, 10, and 10 attempts in his four games this season. Friday will see him in a shooter's duel with Jett Vidal, who's been the opposite of efficient as of late and it could be a nice wake-up call for him to finally develop other aspects of his game, like his passing. If the Blazers could run Lastimosa out as point guard, that means they can put guys like Taha and Grey out at the same time, which would greatly benefit their ability to put points on the board.

    Prediction: CSB Blazers

    NCAA S87: EAC vs SBC

    History Lesson:
    The EAC Generals were the victims of two blowout wins by the San Beda Red Lions last season. In the first round, San Beda won by 42 points, as the Generals were trounced badly in the hustle point statistics, 25-6 on fast break points, 28 to 12 in turnover points, and 18 to 4 in second chance points. Emilio Aguinaldo was able to more than cut their deficit in the second meeting though, losing by "only" 24 points to SBC, 92-68 in round two, but hustle points were once again the key, with SBC winning the fastbreak points category 24 to 3, and the turnover points stat 12 to 8. This time though, the Generals stuck with the Red Lions in the second chance points line, losing by only a point, 9 to 8.

    EAC Storyline : The Generals had a tough time without Claude Cubo down low, as they were forced to try to beat Mapua from the outside. While they were able to launch 9 triples out of 23 attempts (39%), the Cardinals got 21 more free throw attempts, and guys like Dhan Diolanto and Rafael Sanchez got into severe foul trouble trying to shore up the interior. Thankfully, Cubo returns on Friday, but it will still be tough going trying to match up with the host of big men San Beda can throw out.
    Stat to Watch : The Generals struggled against the press of JRU, and overall, they concede 16.3 turnover points a game, thanks to an average of 23.8 turnovers, the most of any team. If they play that way versus San Beda, the Lions will gleefully take to running up and down the court, creating a nightmare for head coach Gerry Esplana to stop.
    Player to Watch : Underrated shooter? That's Jan Jamon, who averages 16 points a game in just 20.5 minutes, while shooting a jaw-dropping 60% from downtown, 53% from the field. Problem? 4.3 turnovers a game, a team-high. If he gets hot, then that means a ton of points for EAC, but if he gets sloppy, then it goes the other way to San Beda, almost like a coin flip.

    SBC Storyline : The Red Lions survived a squeaker against the Saint Benilde Blazers, winning by the slimmest of margins, 79-78, after Baser Amer missed two charities, giving Carlo Lastimosa a chance to win with a layup that luckily for San Beda, drew nothing but air. After the loss, coach Frankie Lim criticized his squad's execution, something that became especially clear in the final quarter, when only Amer seemed to want to keep the Blazers at bay. Thus, expect the Red Lions to come out on fire in this game, if only to prove to their mentor that they have what it takes to avoid a repeat of what happened.
    Stat to Watch : Prior to the game versus Benilde, the Red Lions had never scored less than 82 points, and had never allowed a team to score more than 69. Look for them to treat the Blazers game as an aberration, and return to what made them such a strong team: fast break and turnover points.
    Player to Watch : Many were wondering how long it would take for Baser Amer to fully integrate himself into the Red Lions system, as Amer's averages of 5.33 points, 4.67 assists and 2.67 turnovers were far off-base from what many expected the blue-chip recruit to contribute. Expect those criticisms to go away, if their game against Benilde was a sign of things to come for Amer, as he finished with 11 points, all in the fourth quarter, 7 rebounds and not a single turnover.

    Prediction: San Beda Red Lions

    One Day Later: CSJL vs CSB, EAC vs MIT

    Tower of power - Jonathan Belorio proved difficult to cover down low (pic source)

    CSJL 112 - CSB 91
    Recap - - - Preview

    Player of the Game : 6'4 Jam Cortes continues to play bigger than his height, finishing with another double-double, 19 points and 12 rebounds, plus 3 assists, his third in five games. Coach Louie Alas has been getting a ton of production from his trio of bigs, Cortes, Jonathan Belorio and Raymond Almazan, this season. They're probably a tier lower than the big men of San Beda or San Sebastian, but third-best in a league of ten is not something to sniff about.

    CSJL Stat to Watch : The Letran Knights went out and dominated the glass, more than doubling Benilde's output, 53-25. They also murdered them on offensive rebounds, getting 28 to just 8 by the Blazers, allowing them to put up 16 second chance points, with Benilde finishing with a big fat zero.
    CSJL Player to Watch : See above, for more of Jam Cortes.

    CSB Stat to Watch : Benilde turned the ball over just 19 times, a relatively small amount considering Letran's defense, and the high-scoring nature of the game. Alas said after the game that he felt the Blazers had done a good job scouting, always aware of where the open guy was for the pass when the double came, but Letran was still able to finish with a 17-10 turnover point advantage, so it wasn't an impeccable performance in that regard.
    CSB Player to Watch : Tim McCoy couldn't handle the Letran bigs, actually none of the Benilde big men could, but McCoy in particular was horrible, he finished with just 3 points on 1 of 4 shooting, 1 of 4 from the stripe, plus no rebounds, 3 turnovers and 4 fouls.

    Other Stats: 
    • Jonathan Grey finished the game as the Blazers' leading scorer. He had 23 points on 8 of 8 shooting from the field, and missed 1 free throw to go 7 of 8 from the line.
    • The Knights out-assisted Benilde 25 to 17, doing a better job of finding the open man, especially on the break. 
    • A 32-21 fourth quarter turned out to be Benilde's downfall. Entering the fourth quarter they were down just 10, 80-70, but couldn't put together any offense late. Part of that is on Del Rosario's head, for taking too long to reinsert Carlo Lastimosa, riding out his bench a bit too long.

    Down but not out, the Cardinals finally get win #1 (pic source)

    MIT 80 - EAC 63
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    Player of the Game : Kenneth Ighalo's hustle really helped the Cardinals in this game. The most athletic player on the Mapua line-up finished with 9 points on 4 of 6 shooting, and added 9 rebounds, 5 on the offensive end.

    EAC Stat to Watch : After holding Lyceum to a dreadful 1 of 22 outing from beyond the arc, the Generals got killed from outside, allowing 9 of 20 triples, or 45% shooting. Part of the reason why the Cardinals got so open was a need for EAC to constantly doubleteam the big man down low, due to the suspension of Claude Cubo.
    EAC Player to Watch : Jolas Paguia finished with 11 points on 4 of 10 shooting, 3 of 6 from downtown, and 4 rebounds. You'd like to see him mix it up a bit more, instead of just hovering around the perimeter taking threes. In particular, he had no free throws in this game, and made only 1 of 4 two-pointers.

    MIT Stat to Watch : For the first time in five games, the Cardinals outscored a team in the fourth quarter, finishing 16-12. A 9-0 run to start the fourth certainly helped, as did a Generals team that couldn't hit the broadside of a barn until there was 3-plus minutes remaining in the quarter.
    MIT Player to Watch : Josan Nimes finished with 15 points, 4 of 11 field goal shooting, 2 of 4 from downtown. He also chipped in 5 rebounds and 2 assists, and spread out his scoring among the four quarters. He hit a big triple as part of that 9-0 blast in the fourth that really put Mapua ahead too.

    Other Stats:
    • The Cardinals had a huge advantage at the foul line, taking 27 trips and making 17 charities, while the Generals were had just 6 attempts and 4 makes.
    • EAC also committed 23 turnovers, most of them unforced. Luckily, Mapua isn't much of a running team, and so didn't take much advantage of it. In fact, despite having just 13 turnovers, 10 less than EAC, Mapua finished with the same amount of turnover points, 11.

    NCAA Picking Record: 16-9

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    UAAP S74: NU vs DLSU

    History Lesson:
    These two teams played two tight games last season, with both sides earning a win. In the first encounter, NU won 59-55, as the Bulldogs managed to shoot 58.33% while holding the Archers to just 38.46% shooting, with a frustrated DLSU coach Dindo Pumaren fielding in 14 players in vain, trying to find a combination that could put points on the board. In the second game, NU shot even better, finishing at a 64% clip, but once again, Pumaren dug deep into his line-up, keeping only Martin Reyes seated, and came up with 16 points from Almond Vosotros, helping La Salle stay ahead 59-56. In both games, Emmanuel Mbe dominated, averaging 18 points and 18 rebounds, as the La Salle bigs couldn't handle him. The two teams also tussled in the Fil-Oil tournament, with Almond Vosotros once again powering DLSU to the win, 81-74, with his 17 points, as the Archers were able to shrug off a 29 point explosion by Bobby Ray Parks

    NU Storyline : These are desperate times now for NU, who have already tallied three losses in four games. Given the level of play shown by the other teams, it's highly probable that the Bulldogs will need to pull off some sort of awesome run, like going 8-2 in its remaining games, if it wants to lock down a Final Four spot. If such is the case, the winning has to start  with this game versus DLSU.
    Stat to Watch : Surprisingly, NU is actually the worst rebounding team in the league so far, getting just 37 rebounds and 11.5 offensive rebounds a game, while allowing opponents to pull down on average, 48 rebounds and 19.25 offensive rebounds, both second worst in the league. With only Emmanuel Mbe and Parks really pulling down rebounds, teams have an easy target as to who to box out. The other guys like Glenn Khobuntin, Denice Villamor and Spencer Eman, the latter especially, when he's spelling Mbe, have to do more in that category.
    Player to Watch : If Emmanuel Mbe expects to come out and dominate the DLSU frontline again, he might need to reconsider, what with the Archer frontline now featuring guys like Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres. Since his first game versus UST, when he finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 6 blocks, Mbe hasn't made much of an impact, playing less than 30 minutes in the succeeding three games, and he hasn't pulled down double-digit boards the entire season. NU definitely needs him to win, but can he pull it off versus DLSU?

    DLSU Storyline : Taft Avenue breathed a sigh of relief when the Archers finally got their first win versus UP. That said, the win wasn't as convincing as the final score would tell you, as the Maroons' comeback attempts often succeeded in trimming leads by more than half. La Salle has an opportunity to get a statement win here versus NU, but more importantly, even their record at .500. If they lose this one, they'll be the ones dropping to 1-3, with a need to make up lots of ground.
    Stat to Watch : The Archers are not the prettiest shooting team in the league, in fact, they're the worst, at 33.49%, but they're helped out by the fact that they pull down the most offensive rebounds per game, 24, and lead the league in second-chance points with 11.33. To do that versus NU, they'll need to neutralize Mbe and Parks, but seeing as how limited NU's team is outside of those two guys, that in itself might be enough to get the victory.
    Player to Watch : Yutien Andrada reminded everyone that he's the most important Archer big, coming back from an injury in the season opener that caused him to miss the Ateneo game, to post 11 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in just 18 minutes against UP. For comparison's sake, it takes Norbert Torres 21.3 minutes to get 5.7 points and 7 rebounds, and AVO 18 minutes to get 7.7 points and 4.7 rebounds. While he may not have the strength to guard Mbe one on one, he has the length and speed to serve as weakside help, as well as guard one of the shooty forwards all the way out on the perimeter, without sacrificing the interior D.

    Prediction: DLSU Green Archers

    UAAP S74: ADU vs UE

    History Lesson:
    The Soaring Falcons and Red Warriors split their season meetings last year. In the first encounter, a 69-56 affair that Adamson won, Alex Nuyles edged James Martinez in a duel of shooters, with the rest of Nuyles' fellows, specifically Eric Camson and Janus Lozada, mopping up the floor with Martinez's UE teammates, as even Paul Lee turned in a bad game. In the second round, Lee was once again a non-factor, but this time, so was Nuyles, and Martinez had friends in tow in the form of Lord Casajeros and Ken Acibar, helping the Warriors eke out the upset win, 71-63. The two teams also met in the summer Fil-Oil tournament, with Allen Etrone exploding for 16 points, to lead the Falcons to a 70-61 win.

    ADU Storyline : After a narrow loss to the Ateneo Blue Eagles, the Falcons have refocused their energies to jumping out to a huge lead to start the game, and the early returns have been positive so far. A 25-11 first quarter versus FEU turned into a 78-59 win. Similarly, the Falcons were up 16-5 against UST in a game that was ultimately settled at 81-71. Adamson now allows the fewest first quarter points (12.33) and they've accomplished this with just straight-up defense, instead of steals like last season.
    Stat to Watch : Adamson dominates the boards, allowing opponents the fewest total rebounds, 37, and fewest offensive rebounds, 12.33. It'll be interesting to see if they can contain UE in those departments, as the Red Warriors are second in rebounds per game with 49, and in offensive rebounds a game, with 18.5.
    Player to Watch : Eric Camson has been an underrated source of Adamson's early success, coming off the bench to provide both scoring and rebounds. After posting just 6 points and 6 rebounds against Ateneo, Camson came back in a big way, norming 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in the past two games, while shooting 56% from the field. He'll be a tough match-up for any of UE's forwards as Camson easily outclasses them in nearly every statistic.

    UE Storyline : Bit by bit, the Red Warriors are getting better, but the learning curve has been so steep that by the time they get good, it might be next season already! Versus Ateneo, UE managed to keep in step with the defending champions early on, but foul trouble eventually did them in. With almost every team taller than they are, UE will often find themselves in situations where a foul is the only option they have of stopping an easy two, putting them in a "damned if you, damned if you don't" position. Make him score from the line, or live to defend another day?
    Stat to Watch : The Red Warriors find themselves dead last in offense, in points scored per game to be exact. They norm just 58 points an encounter, with opponents outscoring them by an average of 11.5 points. Adamson's ranked 4th in that category, with 70 points a game, a 12 point difference. Either the Red Warriors defense will have to be better, or someone needs to catch fire fast.
    Player to Watch : After a cameo appearance versus FEU, RR De Leon got his baptism of fire as he tried to guard Greg Slaughter. Suffice to say, that didn't work out pretty well, as Slaughter finished with a double-double, but De Leon showed some flashes of brilliance, while finishing with 6 points and 6 rebounds. There's a chance he might see minutes again due to the presence of Austin Manyara and Jan Colina, but he's a long-term project for sure, joining other similar talents like Chris Javier and Roi Sumang. But if he can give a surprise or two, that might lead to an upset and a reversal of UE's fortunes.

    Adamson Soaring Falcons

    Tuesday, July 26, 2011

    NCAA S87: EAC vs MIT

    History Lesson:
    The Cardinals found the Generals easy prey last season, beating them handily in both rounds, 82-68 and 74-65. The two teams also met each other in the Fil-Oil Preseason Tournament, with the Cardinals also coming out on top, 88-74, behind a double-double performance by Yousef Taha, 16 points and 13 rebounds.

    EAC Storyline : In a battle between two upstart guest teams, the Generals were able to pull off the late win against the Pirates, 73-67, behind big performances by veterans Claude Cubo and Jan Jamon. Unfortunately, the loss came at a price, a one-game suspension for striking Onofore Napize at the start of the fourth quarter. Cubo is EAC's best post player and a powerful rebounder down low, so his loss against a team with quite a ceiling, will definitely be felt.
    Stat to Watch : The Generals were able to contain Lyceum from beyond the arc, holding them to just 1 of 22 from beyond the arc. That perimeter defense ought to come in handy against Mapua, who are second in the league in three-pointers made per game with 5.8 triples.
    Player to Watch : EAC will turn to rookie Jolas Paguia to fill in Cubo's minutes, though aside from their height, the two play different games, with Cubo more of an inside presence compared to the former Baby Tam's perimeter game. But while he had an impressive 22 point, 9 rebound debut versus Arellano, his output has dropped sharply in succeeding games, as have his minutes. He will get the opportunity again to contribute, but what he does with that opportunity is not so certain.

    MIT Storyline : Who would have thought before the season that the Mapua Cardinals would be the last team without a win in the NCAA? Nobody, least of all the Cardinals themselves. The team was visibly fired up last Friday versus JRU, but as the fourth quarter played out, panic began settling in and before you knew it, the team had choked away another win-able game. They catch a big break against EAC with Claude Cubo out, but the fact is, they've had winnable games before and didn't cash in. Because of that fact, can we assume that this one is in the books for MIT because they look better on paper? That hasn't worked out for them in their past four games!
    Stat to Watch : The Cards find themselves outscored in the final period by a total of 83-48. No other stat means anything, aside from that one. When the fourth quarter rolls around, the Cardinals need to just take the ball strong to the rim and draw fouls. No more tentative ball movement that leads to 24 second shot clock violations, no more launching triples 4 feet away from three-point arc, just put your head down and drive.
    Player to Watch : Josan Nimes started out the first half strong versus JRU, dropping 19 points on them in a variety of ways, but it turned out that all his shooting had left him nothing in the tank for the second half, as the rookie from the USA finished with 0 points from halftime onward. Nimes is a notorious streak shooter, that's why it's important that he's hot going into the fourth, so that at least one guy isn't afraid to try to put the team on his back if needed.

    Prediction: MIT Cardinals

    NCAA S87: CSJL vs CSB

    History Lesson:
    The Letran Knights beat out the St. Benilde Blazers twice last season, but in contrasting styles. Their first encounter was a 74-50 affair that saw Letran use a 21-9 third quarter to put away CSB, combined with a 12-2 advantage in second chance points. Round two was much different, as the Blazers stuck close all throughout the game, but Kevin Alas was clutch at the end, finding Jam Cortes for an and-one play that won the game for them, 72-69.

    Letran Storyline : The Knights picked up loss #1 in Season 87 as they couldn't execute and score properly once Kevin Alas fouled out. Prior to that happening, the Knights had actually stayed in step with the Stags, overturning a huge deficit nearly all of the way, getting to within three points with 7:48 left. That actually bodes well for this team, considering that they weren't able to gain an edge in turnover or fastbreak points, normally their main source of scoring.
    Stat to Watch : The Knights were impressive on the glass, as the troika of Jonathan Belorio, Jam Cortes and Raymond Almazan outplayed the bigger San Sebastian team. All in all, Letran got 60 rebounds, 33 on the offensive end. Playing a Benilde team that's roughly the same height, the Knights ought to have the advantage on the boards, if they play like they did against the Stags.
    Player to Watch : Jam Cortes is one of the best power forwards in the league, despite lacking a height advantage to fall back on. Currently averaging 10 points and 11 rebounds, Cortes ought to dominate his match-up against whichever CSB big they field against him, be it Jan Tan, Ian Dela Paz or Tim McCoy, due to experience weighing heavily in his favor.

    Benilde Storyline : "So close and yet so far" has to be what the Blazers have in their minds going on loop right now, though they'll try their best to put the 79-78 loss to SBC on the backburner. What's most frustrating is probably how well the team executed down the stretch, something they had been lacking in prior games, save for their one win against the Cardinals. With all of that, there's some questions as to how the Blazers will come out for this game. Will they have the same intensity they confronted SBC with? Or will they be in a funk, and watch Letran run all over them? 
    Stat to Watch : Benilde totaled just 16 turnovers against San Beda, a large reason why the Red Lions weren't able to get their running game going when points were becoming hard to get by. If the ballhandlers like Luis Sinco, Carlo Lastimosa and Anton Altamirano can survive the press, odds are good that the Blazers can pull this upset off.
    Player to Watch : Tim McCoy started the season slow, but his game has been ramping up as of late, culminating with an 8 point, 7 rebound performance against the Red Lions frontline in 30 minutes of play. Though the opposition will be smaller when they face Letran, they'll be no less potent in the post, so McCoy will have his work cut out for him still.

    Prediction: CSJL Knights

    UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 2 of 2011

    The unified UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings throws everything into a blender, hits the button, and ducks as it first mashes up, and then sorts out all 18 teams of both leagues. Among other factors, the panel of one takes into consideration: the quality of opponents played in the past week, how the team fared against those opponents, whether or not a team is on a roll, be it an uphill or downhill, and other factors like injuries or internal disarray.

    Under the cut: A new #1, a new #18, movement on all fronts!

    One Day Later: LPU vs SSCR, JRU vs UPHSD

    SSCR 82 - LPU 57
    Recap - - - Preview

    Player of the Game : The Lyceum Pirates committed the cardinal error of giving Abueva space to start his dribble before making his move and paid dearly for it, as "The Beast" registered 28 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in just 26 minutes, shooting 10 for 16 from the field. It was the fourth straight double-double in as many appearances for Abueva, who continues to pad the stat sheets, making him a clear-cut favorite for MVP, if he doesn't mess up.

    LPU Stat to Watch : The three-point shot abandoned the Pirates, as the stout defense by the Stags held them to just 3 of 21 attempts from beyond the arc. Unable to create spacing for themselves, the Stags were able to clog the paint, where their superior height caused problems for Lyceum.
    LPU Player to Watch : Chris Cayabyab did in fact draw the attention of Abueva, and the sharpshooter turned cold, finishing with just 9 points, his first sub-double digit game of the season. Shooting 2 of 10 from the field, 1 of 6 from downtown, Cayabyab even had once of his treys sent back at him by Abueva. He at least finished with 6 assists, drawing enough attention to get teammates open looks.

    SSCR Stat to Watch : Despite slowing down the pace to prevent fast break opportunities for the Pirates, the Stags still got to 27 turnovers, with Abueva having 6, and big man Sangalang tallying 4. That said, it didn't come back to haunt them as they held Lyceum to just one turnover point thanks to excellent transition defense.
    SSCR Player to Watch : Pinatubo Trio aside, Lyle Antipuesto was the next highest scorer for the Stags, finishing with five points, three coming from a triple, off the bench in 20 minutes.

    Other stats:

    • The Pirates got 0 fast break points on just 5 attempts, as the Stags shut down their running game by slowing down the tempo and forcing Lyceum to play half-court. 
    • San Sebastian held Lyceum to just 27% shooting, 20 of 73 from the field, while shooting nearly 50% themselves, 30 of 61, though they were only 1 of 7 from downtown. 
    • The Stags also finished with 10 more attempts from the stripe, 28 to 18, hitting 21 of them. 

    UPHDS 79 - JRU 77
    Recap - - - Preview

    Player of the Game : Jeorge Allen surprised everyone with his movie sequence-like return to the court, as the number of Altas who could take to the court was rapidly dwindling. Though he was still clearly limited, Allen gave 100%, fighting and boxing out the taller JRU big men, and scoring two huge  baskets, including the game-winning buzzer beater. His final stats, 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in 7 minutes, barely tell the story of how he lifted his teammates with his early return to play.

    JRU Stat to Watch : The aggressive Heavy Bombers often got the Altas into the penalty situation first, but never really capitalized on it, due to their inability to hit free throws. Though they had double the trips to the line of Perpetual Help, 45 to 22, JRU only made 26 of the 25, for 58% (to be fair, UPHDS was also mediocre, 13 of 22, but JRU had more attempts)
    JRU Player to Watch : Raycon Kabigting regressed in this game, scoring just 5 points on 2 of 11 shooting, making none of his six attempts from beyond the arc. Late in the game, it became clear that they were trying to get this guy going, running various screen plays to free him up, but he kept missing. By the second overtime, the Bombers should have abandoned the ploy and concentrated on getting their big guys the ball instead.

    UPHDS Stat to Watch : The Altas finished the game shooting 37% from the field, up from their average of 31%. Prior to the overtime though, they managed just 53 points, lower than their average of 59.8 points a game, courtesy of a 7 point fourth quarter!
    UPHDS Player to Watch : Chris Elopre didn't get on the score board that much, finishing with just 4 points on 2 of 8 shooting, but his presence in all three overtimes certainly helped stabilize the Altas late, helping fight off the ball pressure by quickly crossing halfcourt.

    Other Stats:
    • JRU committed more turnovers remarkably, 32 to 28, and as a result, UPHDS got more turnover points, 25 to 19. The two sides also didn't get a lot of fastbreaks, with the Altas edging the Heavy Bombers slightly in that category, 8 to 6.
    • Despite a sizable height advantage, JRU had just one more offensive rebound than Perpetual Help, finishing 19 to 18. 
    • JRU's big men troika of Ronnel Carampil, John Lopez and Jeckster Apinan scored 45 of their squad's 77 points and totaled 31 of their 53 rebounds, but the trio also committed 18 turnovers, more than half of their team's 32. 

    NCAA Picking Record: 14-9

      Monday, July 25, 2011

      One Day Later: NU vs FEU, UST vs ADU

      FEU 62 - NU 59
      Recap - - - Preview

      Player of the Game : The insertion of 6'10" Christian Sentcheu into the middle of the FEU 2-3 zone was a gamechanger by head coach Bert Flores, as his presence inside was so intimidating that the Bulldogs opted to throw up long jumpers instead of driving in. The numbers even bare it out, as after attempting 13 perimeter shots and 15 shots in the paint in the first half, the numbers flipped drastically in the second half to 19 perimeter shots and only 9 shots in the paint for the latter half of the game. So while Sentcheu's line of 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks may not seem very exciting, his contributions go deeper than the statistics.

      NU Stat to Watch : Against a team that doesn't force a whole lot of turnovers, NU managed to make just 17 miscues, a decent number for collegiate ball. The Tams were able to take those 17 turnovers and score 15 turnover points, which is in line with what NU did, taking FEU's 16 turnovers and converting them into 13 turnover points.
      NU Player to Watch : Gelo Alolino continues to take big shots and why not since he makes them? In just a 17 minute stint, Alolino went 5 of 9 from the field for 12 points, 8 coming in the second half. That includes 5 straight at the end of the third that made it 54-49, NU, with 51 seconds left in the quarter, and then a triple with 7:23 left in the fourth to give NU a two-possession lead, 57-53.

      FEU Stat to Watch : It's been a constant theme of Coach Flores' post-game interviews: rebounds, rebounds, rebounds. He probably went to sleep happy last night then as his team lorded over the rebounding stat for all but one quarter, finishing with 48 to just 27 by NU. He'll no doubt be quite please as well with the fact that the Tams pulled down 21 of those on the offensive end, tripling what NU got in that category. Only Mbe had a decent showing in the rebounding totals, finishing with 8, 3 offensive. Even Parks was quiet, getting just one offensive rebound in addition to four defensive ones.
      FEU Player to Watch : Coach Flores opted to go with various defenders on Parks, instead of just one main stopper, cycling in guys like Chris Tolomia, JR Cawaling, Gryann Mendoza, and Terrence Romeo, but the guy who got the most minutes covering him was Ping Exciminiano, and the "defense by committee" approach worked out well. Parks finished with his lowest output, 11 points, and Exciminiano had another all-around game, 5 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block.

      Other Stats:
      • The difference in offensive rebounds translated to second chance points, where FEU was a dominant 11 to 2.
      • Parks took just 7 field goal attempts in the entire game. 3 came in the final quarter, and all of them were triples. NU has to use him better, setting some screens for him, maybe posting him up, or even running pick and rolls for him and Mbe.

      ADU 81 - UST 71
      Recap - - - Preview

      Player of the Game : After sitting out much of the third with foul trouble, Janus Lozada picked right where he left off in the first half, where he finished with 12 points, totaling 9 in the final quarter and made sure UST wasn't going to launch any comebacks. Playing just 22 minutes, the fifth-year guard had 21 points on 7 of 9 shooting, plus four rebounds and two assists. He also did a pretty good job on Kevin Ferrer, preventing the rookie from having a big night. 

      UST Stat to Watch : A big performance from rookie big man Karim Abdul (13 points, 10 rebounds), helped UST's rebounding by a lot. Though they were blowed out early, the Tigers managed to finish with just three less rebounds than the Falcons, and inched ahead of them by one in the offensive rebound category. They also allowed just 2 second chance points from the Falcons.
      UST Player to Watch : A combination of Lester Alvarez and Jerick Canada shut down Jeric Fortuna, allowing just 8 points from the fiery floor general, including critically, no triples in three tries. Fortuna added 5 rebounds and 4 assists, but was unable to save the Tigers in the end, like he had done in previous games.

      ADU Stat to Watch : A large part of Adamson's success in this game came by way of how they defended the perimeter, allowing just 2 triples in 14 tries by the Growling Tigers. Including all shots not in the paint, the Tigers were just 6 of 25, as Adamson made UST take it inside, where the Falcons had the advantage.
      ADU Player to Watch : Another strong start for Alex Nuyles meant another strong start for the Falcons, as Nuyles scored 8 of his 16 points in the first quarter, to power Adamson to a 16-2 start that knocked the wind out of UST early on. Nuyles was hot from beyond the arc, finishing 4/6, and he also had 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

      Other Stats:
      • The Falcons shot 8 of 20 from beyond the arc for 40 percent three-point shooting, their best downtown performance of the young season.
      • Kevin Ferrer took 8 of UST's 14 triples, and made just two of them, finishing with 9 points.
      • Jeric Teng started the game with three turnovers, throwing the ball to teammates who weren't there, forcing Coach Pido Jarencio to bench him temporarily. Those would be his only turnovers of the game,

      UAAP Picking Record: 10-4

      Sunday, July 24, 2011

      NCAA 87: JRU vs UPHSD

       History Lesson:
      The hard-luck Perpetual Help Altas lost both their encounters to the JRU Heavy Bombers last season. Firepower was often the difference maker, as in their first encounter last July 16, 2010, when JRU's five double-digit scorers (Alex Almario, JR Bulangis, Marvin Hayes, John Lopez, and Nchotu Njei) overwhelmed the three double-digit scorers that UPHSD threw out (Jeorge Allen, Justine Alano and Arnold Danganan), 78-62. That same math applied as well in their round two meet on the 25th of August, 2010, a 66-55 win for JRU. Once again, the Heavy Bombers had more scorers in double-digits, this time four, Nate Matute, Raycon Kabigting, John Montemayor, Almario again, compared to just two by the Altas, Jeorge Allen and Jett Vidal. 

      JRU Storyline : The Heavy Bombers find themselves at.500 after a 0-2 start, thanks to the latest epic collapse by the Mapua Cardinals. Part of the reason for the early struggles has been an adjustment to their style. Originally projected as a team that would force a lot of turnovers and hit triples, the latter part has instead been changed to "and score via our athletic forwards." That might change by the time Nate Matute returns from his groin injury, and if Raycon Kabigting and John Villarias continue to stroke it from downtown, but until those two things happen, this will continue to be a team powered by John Lopez, Ronnel Carampil and Jeckster Apinan.
      Stat to Watch : The free throw line has been JRU's Achilles heel. They've had less attempts than their opponents in three out of their four games, and they've never broken the 60% mark for free throw shooting yet this season.
      Player to Watch : Team captain Raycon Kabigting finally broke into double digits, scoring 14 on 50% shooting while adding 3 assists, and then taking them away with 3 turnovers. 6 of those points came on two triples, which is a big deal for a team that sorely lacks outside shooting. Can Kabigting keep it up? He has a prime opportunity against the hapless Altas, so it's likely he least for this game.

      UPHSD Storyline : After a punishing early schedule that saw the play four games from July 2 to July 11, Perpetual Help took a nice, long, two week break before returning to play. While it's unlikely for them come out of the "vacation" looking like a completely different team, it at least gives more time for Jeorge Allen to recover from his opening day injury, and for Jimwell Gican to adjust to being a head coach.
      Stat to Watch : The Altas are dead last in points scored per game, and by a huge margin to boot, as they average 59.8 points, while the next closest squad, Mapua, norms 68.5 points. Part of the problem is that Perpetual can't seem to hit the broadside of a barn, with the worst percentage in the league, 31% field goal shooting, and the least amount of field goals made per game, 22.3. Will the up and down pace the Heavy Bombers play help? Or will it just increase the amount of the blowout? Unfortunately for the Altas, more like the latter.
      Player to Watch : Here's hoping Chris Elopre will be ready for the press of JRU. Averaging 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists to 2.5 turnovers, he's been the closest thing to an actual co-contributor to this team alongside Jett Vidal. He managed just three turnovers against Letran, which is an encouraging sign, but with JRU on a high because of back to back wins, a desire to make it three in a row might equal some very aggressive defense.

      Prediction: JRU Heavy Bombers