Friday, July 29, 2011


History Lesson:
The Eagles had no problems defeating last season's victory-less Maroons, handing them a pair of big defeats. Round one saw Ateneo post a 25-point win, 78-53, with Eric Salamat dishing out nine steals and swiping four times, and Nico Salva taking charge of the scoring with 18 points to his name. The margin of victory was smaller in round two, just 16 points, 75-59, but this time it was big man Justin Chua dominating inside with 16 points, and Emman Monfort providing the outside support, with a monster statline of 23 points, 5 of 10 shooting from beyond the arc, six rebounds, five assists and four steals.

UP Storyline : After the warm glow of reaching their first win in a very long time, UP fans now have to come to grips with the possibility that this teams is just a rung or two better than last season's incarnation. Though one can probably argue for hours as to whether this team is more talented than last season's, one thing is for sure, the Season 74 Maroons are not as deep, especially scoring-wise. Anything they get beyond the quartet of Mike Silungan, Mike Gamboa, Jett Manuel and Jelo Montecastro is a bonus.
Stat to Watch : The Maroons are heavily dependent on getting out in transition, leading the league in fastbreak points, with 20.67 a game, almost 31% of their average points per game. This of course, causes some awkwardness when they miss multiple wide open layups, which is what they did versus DLSU, but if they connect more consistently, for sure that number is going to balloon upwards.
Player to Watch : Mike Gamboa has always been a bit of an inconsistent player, vacillating between stud point guard and turnover machine. So far this season, turnovers haven't been a problem, totaling just 4 in three games. Instead, it's his shot that's been wildly off. After a great start against UE (19 points, 6/15 shooting), he's been on a downward slide, getting 9 versus NU, and then just 3 versus DLSU. Overall, he's shooting just 36.67% from the field, relying too much on his jumper, instead of driving down the lane (just 7 free throw attempts all season). As a former Eaglet, odds are, he'll want to have a good game against his former school, but such things can sometimes backfire, with the player trying to do too much.

ADMU Storyline : The Eagles survived something of a scare when they managed just a 28-25 halftime lead versus UE, but they managed to right the ship in the third quarter, allowing them to field in their bench in the fourth quarter. Ateneo knows a thing or two about the need to put away lower tier teams early, and have a special case study in which UP stars. In Season 72, the Eagles suffered their one and only loss in the regular season at the hands of a determined Maroons squad that blew them out of the game with multiple triples in the third quarter, 68-58. With a good number of players from that loss still on the roster, vets like Kirk Long, Nico Salva and Emman Monfort are bound to do their best to make sure that doesn't happen again.
Stat to Watch : How do you quantify the impact of having Greg Slaughter guard the shaded lane beyond blocks? The Eagles allow the second-fewest points, just 61.5 a game, and they do so by holding opponents to just 36.04% percent on two-point baskets, and 42.74% on points in the paint, tops in the league in those stats.
Player to Watch : Justin Chua hasn't adjusted very well to coming off the bench again after getting the nod to start down the stretch last season, when he averaged 8.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 19.5 minutes. He's only scored 6 points in 4 games, on putrid 13.33% field goal shooting, despite usually being the go-to guy of Ateneo's bench quintet. The Eagles would love for him to get his groove back, and a height-challenged team like UP gives him a good opportunity to do just that (of course, an argument could be made that the game against UE should have allowed him to do that as well...)

Prediction: ADMU Blue Eagles

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