Tuesday, July 19, 2011


History Lesson:
The Knights and the Stags played tight, grind-it-out basketball last season, with neither team breaking hitting 60 points in two encounters, though San Sebastian wound up winning both. In the season-opener game, Ronald Pascual and Calvin Abueva managed to keep the Knights away after Letran had closed to within a point, escaping with the 59-53 win. The opposite happened in the second round, as it was the Stags who were playing catch-up, only they managed to overturn a 15-point deficit, to triumph 59-58.

San Sebastian Storyline : The Stags have looked impressive even as they work to integrate a host of rookie big power forwards. Unfortunately for them, things get tougher now, as they'll be without Jonathan Semira for the rest of the season, after further diagnosis discovered an ACL injury. That means captain Anthony Del Rio and Lyle Antipuesto will need to assume greater ball handler responsibilities, or you know, they could just give the ball to Calvin Abueva and get out of his way. Given the growth he's shown as a playmaker, the latter's not exactly a bad option too.
Stat to Watch : The Knights force an average of 24.3 turnovers a game, but it'll likely be more during the game, seeing as how the Stags average 21.3 errors a game. Part of that is because the Stags are prone to losing the ball when their offense goes from "run and gun" to "helter skelter." Against other squads, it rarely comes back to bite them, but against Letran, those guys are just as likely to run the ball back the other way and score.
Player to Watch : Captain Anthony Del Rio is relatively low-key compared to the Pampanga Trio, and truth be told, his line of 3.33 points on 14% FG, 3 rebounds, 3.33 assists and 2 turnovers in 24 minutes isn't really spectacular, but San Sebastian will need his leadership on the court, especially if Letran jumps out to a huge lead. If someone on the team is going to get them to chill out and not panic in such a situation, it'll be Del Rio.

Letran Storyline : The Knights have surprised a lot of people by going 3-0, as their performance in the summer league was pretty blah, but this squad looks nothing like the Fil-Oil teams that often lacked players for one reason or another. As a result, Kevin Alas often had to do too much to keep his team in the thick of things. In the NCAA proper, that's not the case, as weapons like VJ Espiritu, Kevin Racal and Jonathan Belorio have all provided scoring. The thing about this game though, Letran can't afford to get into a firefight with Abueva and Pascual. If they're going to deal San Sebastian their first loss, it'll have to be through defense.
Stat to Watch : It'll be a contrast in styles tomorrow, as the second best offensive team (80 points a game) goes up against the best defensive team (57.7 points a game). It's safe to say, the lower the score, the better Letran's chances of winning this game, simple as that.
Player to Watch : Raymond Almazan has slowly been improving game after game, finding his bearings as a defensive player. His 7.67 rebounds, 1.67 assists, and 2 blocks average will be put to the test though against Ian Sangalang, who's possibly the most polished big man in the league right now. Almazan must avoid foul trouble, as that would mean the Knights would go small with Jam Cortes at the 5 and Jonathan Belorio at the 4, and the last thing they would probably want is for Sangalang to post up Cortes. Is Almazan can use his length to even keep the ball away from Sangalang, that might be much, much better for Letran's future.

Prediction: San Sebastian Stags

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