|Mark Bringas and Carl Bryan Cruz must defend the paint against guys like Lester Alvarez (pic source)|
While not a big-name rivalry like Ateneo-La Salle, this calendar year has seen four great Adamson-FEU match-ups so far. The two teams are stocked with talent, have good coaching, and won't back down against each other, which is good because we're likely to see both of them in the Final Four this season. Last year, the Tams drew first blood, in a 74-65 win that saw multiple FEU players get into double-digits. Adamson struck back barely two weeks later, nailing the Tamaraws with their first loss after sweeping round one, 64-63. Both squads were placed in the same group of the Fil-Oil tournament, drawing each other in their maiden encounters. A late Adamson rally turned out to be just that, late, as the Tams had just enough to overcome them, 66-61. Then in the battle for third place, the Falcons couldn't get their offense in gear, falling to fourth, 65-57.
Adamson Storyline: The Falcons were well in control of the game against their nemesis, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, but sputtered to a stop as the offense got strangled in the last 7 minutes of play. The low-scoring affair saw the Falcons rain in points from outside, but the well dried up too early, and Adamson finished with a 26.6 field goal percentage.
Adamson Stat to Watch: After a season where Adamson was the king of steals and forcing turnovers, the summer saw their numbers in both categories decline from 7.71 and 20.57 respectively, to 4.7 and 17.2, respectively. Against Ateneo, they managed 6 steals and 14 turnovers, but got just 2 turnover points out of it. Versus FEU, they'll need to be more aggressive on defense as they can't be drawn into a half-court battle again. Forcing more turnovers also means less possessions for RR Garcia, a definite plus for the Falcons, if they can pull it off.
Adamson Player to Watch: Lester Alvarez hit two big triples to swing the lead over to Adamson in the third quarter, but the normally clutch floor general was scoreless in the fourth quarter and finished shooting a monstrous 2 of 17 from the field. He'll need to bounce back and shoot better in this game, while at the same time, save something for defense, as he'll be matched up against last season's MVP.
Prediction: FEU Tamaraws
FEU Storyline : Without Pipo Noundou and Reil Cervantes, the FEU Tamaraws were able to repulse a last-minute DLSU rally behind clutch play from RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo and Aldrech Ramos, as the trio combined to score the last 12 FEU points. Despite being a shorter team than previous incarnations of this squad, the Tams got by, alternating Carl Bryan Cruz and Mark Bringas at the 4 spot to the tune of 14 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. If they can continue to get that sort of production, plus stellar performances every now and then from Garcia, the Tams will be ok, and will likely return to the Final Four.
FEU Stat to Watch: The Tams got a big boost from their bench guys, JR Cawaling and Cruz, and even though Terrence Romeo was limited to just two charities, he contributed in other ways, namely 8 rebounds and 8 assists. This is important for FEU because somebody will have to take over when RR Garcia and Aldrech Ramos need to catch a breather. All in all, they got 30 bench points in the win, and that's a number worth following when they play the deeper Falcons.
FEU Player to Watch: Against multiple DLSU big men, Aldrech Ramos was able to assert himself in the paint and avoid early foul trouble. The Smart Gilas big man finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block, leaving his fingerprints all over the game. Versus Adamson, they'll be fewer guys that will be sent to match up with him, but two of them, Eric Camson and Jan Colina, are far superior to anyone he faced on the DLSU roster. If those two can contain his contributions, FEU will be in deep trouble without another reliable go-to big man.