Saturday, July 23, 2011


History Lesson:
FEU claimed two wins against NU last season, with the first round encounter being a close affair. After entering the fourth quarter with a 56-54 lead, NU found itself on the wrong end of the record column, with FEU edging them 76-72, as Reil Cervantes and Aldrech Ramos combined for 26 points, 20 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 blocks, wasting as 23 point, 9 rebound effort from Kokoy Hermosisima. Deciding that they didn't want another close game the second time around, The Tamaraws began with a 26-12 first quarter and then shifted into cruise-control, winning 77-62, behind 23 points from RR Garcia and 8 assists from Jens Knuttel.

NU Storyline : If you had NU going to the Final Four, let alone the Finals, then the demolition job by Ateneo on the Bulldogs last Thursday had to have shook your confidence, as the Eagles pushed all the right buttons to blow out a foe they went back and forth with in the preseason. But aside from exposing NU's vulnerability to turnovers and fast breaks, that game and the one they won versus UP, showed just how reliant this squad is on Bobby Ray Parks to create for them when things are going wrong. And as UST and Ateneo have shown, all it takes is one athletic stopper, and Parks can be shut down.
Stat to Watch : Luckily for NU, they face an FEU team that doesn't force a whole lot of turnovers (16.33 this season, league-low 12.57 last year). Still, against a UE team that messed up a lot on their own, without any extra prodding from the Tamaraws, FEU scored 29 turnover points, and so the NU guards had better be careful come game time.
Player to Watch : Gelo Alolino made a case for himself to be the starting point guard once again, after a yawn-worthy 9 minute, 2 point stint in their season opener. Coming off the bench for 19 minutes, Alolino had 11 points, second best on the team in that game, including a four-point play. He may not rack up a lot of assists, but if NU continues with its drive and dish offense, Alolino could be the recipient of a lot of Parks' kick-out passes for open triples.

FEU Storyline : The Tamaraws righted the ship against the UE Red Warriors, though it wasn't pretty, as whatever malaise they were suffering from against Adamson carried over in the first quarter. Coach Bert Flores complained about his squad's slow starts and attributed them to poor rebounding, making it hard for FEU to establish tempo. More interesting perhaps is his shift to a longer rotation, with shorter stints for players, almost DLSU-like, except for only about 10-11 players. Against an NU team with a strong rebounder in Emmanuel Mbe and a pretty deep bench themselves, we'll have to see if FEU can match-up well enough in the face of all these adjustments.
Stat to Watch : The Tamaraws currently average 39.33 rebounds a game, 15.67 on the offensive end, for an average of 9.33 second chance points. The absence of Pipo Noundou is telling, and his replacements, Mark Bringas, Clarence Foronda, Russel Escoto and Carl Bryan Cruz have just been average at best. Not only should these guys bang the boards, they ought to bang bodies with Emmanuel Mbe in the hope that he gets into foul trouble early again and open up the rim.
Player to Watch : So who will have the "honor" of guarding Bobby Ray Parks? Coach Flores says it will be Ping Exciminiano, who acquitted himself well against the many tweeners of UE. But Parks is a whole different beast, bringing not just athleticism, but bulk as well. Still, he fits the profile of guards who have successfully bothered Bobby Ray (Teng, Long), and if he can get in a couple of swipes that lead to run out baskets, then FEU will be in good shape.

Prediction: NU Bulldogs

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