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.
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.
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