The Growling Tigers and the Red Warriors split their season series in Season 73, slumping hard from their Final Four appearances in Season 72. In the second of the opening day games, the Tigers got five players in double-digit scoring, winning 80-67, as Paul Lee looked noticeably hobbled, coming off an offseason injury to finish with 7 points and 5 turnovers. Round 2 was the opposite, as the trio of Jeric Fortuna, Jeric Teng and Melo Afuang, lacked the firepower to stop UE's big three of James Martinez, Ken Acibar and Paul Lee, allowing the Red Warriros to pick up the 75-65 victory.
Stat to Watch : The Tigers grabbed 22 offensive rebounds after averaging just 12 last season, leading to a 21-14 edge in second-chance points. Considering how that was against a team with height, it should be no problem for them to repeat the feat against a smaller UE team.
Player to Watch : Cameroonian center Karim Abdul was out-matched by the more experienced Emmanuel Mbe, fouling out after 21 minutes, and finishing with just 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. A tinier UE team might help him adjust to the college game quicker, especially if the Tigers look to set him up with more drop passes near the rim.
Stat to Watch : Playing a team not known to press or play lockdown defense, the Red Warriors coughed the ball up 24 times, as passes went awry far too often, with players passing to empty spaces on the floor. If the Red Warriors hope to win, they'll need to execute on offense better, and that starts with knowing where your teammates are.
Player to Watch : Rookie Chris Javier played just 20 minutes in his debut, as head coach Jerry Codinera opted to go small for most of the game, finishing with 6 points and 6 rebounds. Javier's rawness was apparent, as he didn't have a single post-up move, getting points mostly from assists by teammates. The Warriors should try to look for him more on offense, especially since he's the only real big man option they have.
Prediction: UST Growling Tigers.