Sunday, July 17, 2011


History Lesson:
This will be the first time the Mapua Cardinals take on the guest-team Lyceum Pirates

Mapua Storyline : The Cardinals have been the largest disappointment as of late. After solid stints in the Fr. Martin Summer Cup and the Fil-Oil Preseason Tournament, Mapua is 0-2, with fourth quarter collapses against Letran and St. Benilde. Allan Mangahas is doing his best to carry the team, but help from guys like Jason Pascual, Jonathan Banal and rookie Josan Nimes has been inconsistent at best to nonexistent at worse. The Cardinals also played Benilde minus Yousef Taha, who was suspended after their game against the Knights. They will have him though for this game, which certainly swings things in their favor.
Stat to Watch : An over-reliance on the three-point shot was what stopped Mapua from being a contender in previous seasons. Adding Yousef Taha was supposed to curb that, but with his suspension, the Cardinals reverted to old form, walking right into Benilde's zone and hoisting up 41 triple attempts, making just 8 of them. Against Letran they were 3 out of 11 from downtown, but foul trouble permitting, I'd love for them to just dump it down low to Taha on every possession, given the Pirates' lack of height.
Player to Watch : Kenneth Ighalo had a nice offensive game, scoring 12 on 5 of 7 shooting, with 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 26 minutes. Though he's known more as a stopper, Ighalo might actually be this squad's best defender, as his athleticism allows him to stay in front of his man. Putting him up against Chris Cayabyab might be in Mapua's best interest as Cayabyab leads the Pirates in scoring.

Lyceum Storyline : After a fairytale-like beginning to the season, a 2-0 record that had them on top of the standings, the Pirates have returned to reality, after back to back losses to the defending champion San Beda Red Lions and the EAC Generals. Part of the Pirates' struggles originate from the injury of starting point guard Shane Ko, who has missed the past two outings with a wrist injury. Though on paper he averages just 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists, his poise and leadership have been sorely lacking.
Stat to Watch : The Pirates' lack of height means they struggle against big (EAC's Claude Cubo), especially athletic big men (CSB's Mark Romero, SBC's Kyle Pascual). For all of Allan Santos' great numbers, he can't be everywhere, and these guys often have at least 2 inches on him. With the Cardinals most likely going to feature Yousef Taha, plus guys like Mike Parala and Mark Sarangay in reserve, the number of points and rebounds the Pirates concede will most likely decide this game.
Player to Watch : Floricel Guevarra has been the Robin to Chris Cayabyab's Batman, averaging 11 points a game. With the Cardinals probably out to stop Cayabyab, that might mean more looks for Guevarra, and he'll have to knock them down, especially since this game project to be about offense, rather than defense.

Prediction: MIT Cardinals

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