Friday, July 29, 2011


History Lesson:
The UST Growling Tigers fell twice to the super-potent FEU offense in Season 73. In round one, the Tams leaned on a 20-12 fourth quarter and a 21-10 advantage in second chance points to overwhelm the Tigers, beating them 65-57, as RR Garcia exploded for 22 points. UST got the better of the Tamaraws in terms of the hustle point categories in round two, but this time it was Aldrech Ramos' turn to come up big, posting 21 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists that proved to be more than what the Tigers could handle, as they fell 76-67.

UST Storyline : The Tigers ran into an Adamson Falcons buzz saw that hit them early, 16-5, but the plucky UST squad did their best to avoid a double-digit blowout, getting 21 turnover points to just 11 by Adamson, and big efforts from bench bigs Karim Abdul (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Melo Afuang (14 points on 6/6 shooting). That nearly, but didn't quite, make up for poor showings by Jeric Fortuna and Kevin Ferrer (17 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists combined).
Stat to Watch : Here's an early surprise, UST is currently second in the league in steals per game, with 7.67, which in turn allows them to lead the turnover points stat, with 20 turnover points scored per game, roughly 28% of their offensive output. If the Tigers can get out and score before FEU can set up their defense, there's a good chance for them to steal this win.
Player to Watch : Flagrant foul aside, Karim Abdul was a pretty solid inside presence for the Tigers versus the Falcons, providing 13 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. I can see him taking Aldrech Ramos for stretches or Christian Sentcheu if the Tams opt to go tall again. The person I'd want him to avoid is Mark Bringas, as you do not want these two hotheads to go at each other.

FEU Storyline : After falling flat against Adamson, the Tams righted their ship by blowing out UE and blunting the NU offense in the fourth quarter. As of right now, FEU is still a work in progress, as admitted by coach Bert Flores himself. But all of that experimenting allowed them to try out and succeed with a 2-3 zone anchored by Christian Sentcheu down low. By the time the Final Four comes around, Flores might have a deep bag of tricks to reach into to surprise whichever team they match up against.
Stat to Watch : In the face of the Tigers taking the third-most triple attempts in the league (17 a game, behind ADU and UP), it's a good thing that FEU is the best team at shutting down the three-ball, allowing just 17% shooting from downtown. If the Tamaraws succeed at this, they'll be the second team in a row (Adamson was first) to lock down UST from beyond the arc, forcing them to go inside where they're not as comfortable or used to playing.
Player to Watch : Christian Sentcheu played his best game so far, getting 14 minutes and finishing with 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. Most of those minutes came in the fourth quarter as well, showing how much Flores trusted him to protect the interior. We'll see if a repeat performance is in order versus the Tigers, and if he does well, then perhaps FEU will have found the player to take cousin Pipo Noundou's minutes.

Prediction: FEU Tamaraws

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