Last season saw two tight games between these teams, but the results were both the same: JRU squeaking by, 66-62, and 67-64, despite allowing big performances from Chiefs shooters (Vergel Zulueta had 30 in round one, Andrian Celada had 30 in round two).
Arellano Storyline: The Chiefs got surprised by a revamped EAC Generals team that included three players that couldn’t be scouted as they hadn’t participated in summer league play (Paguia, Torralba and King). The Heavy Bombers are a more known element though, and if the game unfolds like it did for JRU against SSC-R, Arellano’s zone might be able to deny guys like Ronnel Carampil and John Lopez the ball. Then if the Bombers continue to suffer from outside, Leo Isaac’s charges might pick up their first victory of the season
Stat to Watch:Turnovers; the press of JRU can give certain teams fits, but based on their first game, point guards Rocky Acidre and Donald Gumaru handled the rock well, tallying 0 turnovers (although Celada, Zulueta, Caperal and Lapuz combined for 11). If the two can get the ball across the halfcourt mark and deny JRU turnover points, that takes a huge bite from the Heavy Bombers’ offense.
Player to Watch: Andrian Celada, on the surface, Celada had a fine game, 15 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, but the Mythical 5 selection was 0 for 7 from the beyond the arc and got to the freethrow line just twice. If he can diversify his game a bit more he’ll be that much more tough to cover.
Jose Rizal Storyline: The undersized big men of JRU did all the work last Saturday, with Carampil. Lopez and Jeckster Apinan teaming up for 43 of the team’s 67 points, and 23 rebounds. Meanwhile, guards Alex Almario, Nate Matute, Philip Paniamogan and Raycon Kabigting shot a combined 6 of 32 and had just 5 assists. The Bombers will need both aspects of their offense to click if they expect to make a return trip to the Final Four this season.
Stat to Watch: Fastbreak points; how a pressing team like JRU got 18 turnover points but just 2 fast break points is beyond me, but a couple of breakaway baskets never hurt anyone, and it would certainly fire up the crowd. Last season they averaged a little under 15 per game against the Chiefs so it can be done.
Player to Watch: Nate Matute; coming off the bench, Matute was expected to be instant offense and a long-range threat, but the guard was a big dud versus San Sebastian, scoring 5 points in 25 minutes. He led the team in scoring over the summer, so I’m sure his team is hoping he’ll catch fire sooner rather than later.
Prediction: JRU Heavy Bombers