Tuesday, July 19, 2011

UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 1 of 2011

The unified UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings throws everything into a blender, hits the button, and ducks as it first mashes up, and then sorts out all 18 teams of both leagues. Among other factors, the panel of one takes into consideration: the quality of opponents played in the past week, how the team fared against those opponents, whether or not a team is on a roll, be it an uphill one or a downhill one, and other factors like injuries or internal disarray. 

This is the first edition of the Power Rankings for 2011 as the panel of one felt that it would be best to wait for all teams to play at least two games before making any judgments.

Defeated ADU 55-51 and DLSU 81-72
The Blue Eagles kicked off their quest for four titles in a row in stunning fashion, shutting down the Adamson Falcons late, and then surviving bad calls and a furious rally from their arch-rivals. It's hard to argue against a team that just dispatched two potential Final Four opponents, and what's disturbing for the seven other UAAP teams is this: The Eagles can only play better as the season progresses

Upcoming Games: NU on July 21, UE on July 23
Defeated UPHSD 82-52, LPU 89-69 and AU 92-67
Life's been a breeze so far for the defending NCAA champions as a cakewalk of a schedule has them playing what are essentially tune-up games before facing the teams that might actually pose a threat to them. All three of their opponents have tried to use the zone to slow San Beda down, but to no avail, as Coach Lim gleefully points out that they've scored 80+ points on the zone in all of their games.

Upcoming Games: CSB on July 22
Defeated MIT 76-65, UPHSD 74-43 and AU 88-70
Many were down on Letran coming into the start of the season, due to poor summer league play that basically had Kevin Alas going 1 on 5 against the other team, but in hindsight, that team rarely played games at full strength, with guys missing for one reason or another. Now at full strength in the NCAA, their press has been dominant, and shooters like VJ Espiritu have been stroking it from downtown. Their game versus SSCR though will determine if they belong to the next tier of teams in the NCAA or not.

Upcoming Games: SSCR on July 20
Defeated JRU 73-67, CSB 86-78 and UPHSD 87-60
The play of the Pampanga Trio, namely Ronald Pascual, Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva, has dominated the games of the Golden Stags, with Pascual and Abueva notching career-highs in a recent blow out of Perpetual Help. They'll need to keep it up at the level though, with the news that Jonathan Semira's injury might actually be an ACL-tear, essentially ending his NCAA career. That's horrible timing for the Stags, who face two press-happy teams in the coming week, though it'll give Abueva a larger stage to show off his new ball-handling skills.

Upcoming Games: CSJL on July 20, LPU on July 25
Defeated NU 73-72 (OT) and UE 70-63
The Tigers caught NU napping and pulled an upset over them in overtime, but then nearly got upset themselves against UE as their offense fell apart in the fourth quarter. While UST fans are already celebrating, the wise move might be to adapt a "wait and see" philosophy, as in recent seasons, Pido Jarencio's charges have started off well, only to flame out late when other teams have figured them out. I'd also feel more confident about them if their bench could be a bit more productive. Melo Afuang hasn't given them anything yet in what is supposedly his final year of eligibility.

Upcoming Games: ADU on July 24

Defeated CSB 75-63, UPHSD 93-87 and MIT 76-73, lost to EAC 67-73 and SBC 69-89

The Pirates have been the surprise of the NCAA. Despite their guest team status, coach Bonnie Tan has his guys playing at top level, toppling lower tier teams and even upsetting the highly-touted Mapua. A Final Four berth seems possible, given the severe drop-off in talent in that league, but we'll know more after they face Arellano and San Sebastian. The sooner they get Shane Ko back, the better as well, as they're 1-2 without him.

Upcoming Games: AU on July 20, SSCR on July 25
Defeated FEU 78-59, lost to ADMU 51-55
Alex Nuyles came to life and buried the FEU Tamaraws under his heel last Saturday morning, and after a close grind-it-out loss against ADMU, the Falcons bounced right back with one of the best games I've ever seen from them. They also did all of that with Lester Alvarez basically missing everything he puts up, but once he regains his stroke, they become a definite Finals contender. Now if only they can finally pin one on Ateneo...

Upcoming Games: UST on July 24

Defeated DLSU 74-65, lost to ADU 59-78

Since the season started without Pipo Noundou, the Tams have been defined by their troika of Aldrech Ramos, JR Cawaling and RR Garcia. With only three real scoring threats, coach Bert Flores has had to be active with his substitutions, finding spots where he can sit one of his guys without suffering a severe drop in production. The missing piece has been Terrence Romeo, who hasn't been scoring, but has shown improvement in other areas, specifically rebounding and assists. Can he shoot and help in other ways? "No" might mean an up and down season for FEU. "Yes" might mean a trip back to the Finals.
Upcoming Games: UE on July 21, NU on July 24
Defeated AU 84-77 and LPU 73-67, lost to JRU 60-76
The other surprise of the NCAA, the EAC Generals had a nice statement debut versus Arellano, and then knocked off the number one surprise team Lyceum in a tight game, with the two wins sandwiching a complete meltdown versus JRU. They have some nice pieces, especially their rookies, Joshua Torralba and Jolas Paguia, but the moment Claude Cubo has a nice game, he gets a one-game suspension for clocking someone in the head. Nice job there "The House."

Upcoming Games: None
Defeated UP 75-66, lost to UST 72-73 (OT)
Is it still accurate to call this team "The Bobby and Emmanuel" show if the latter, Mbe, fouls out, and the former, Parks, shows that he is capable of putting a team on his back and carrying them to a win? That said, the real test for the Bulldogs as a whole team will be when they play against a squad with a shutdown forward (like Ateneo's Kirk Long) or a coach who can concoct a scheme that can minimize his touches (like FEU's Bert Flores). NU has gotten nothing from their guards, and it's hard to imagine this team winning it all without a single steady backcourt contributor.

Upcoming Games: ADMU on July 21, FEU on July 24

Defeated UE 69-61, lost to NU 66-75
Assured of not having to suffer through another winless season, things are happy over in State U right now. You can tell, just by watching, that this team has a different attitude from last season's bunch of players, so much that I think they'll be in the thick of every game this year. Their shooters like Mike Silungan and Jett Manuel can score a ton in a hurry, and their pressure defense is currently under the radar for what it does. I'll go out on a limb here and say that they won't have a loss worse than 14 points.

Upcoming Games: DLSU on July 23

Defeated MIT 70-67, lost to LPU 63-75 and SSCR 67-73
Three games into the new-look Blazers, and things are pretty much status quo for the Blazers, as their lack of height and scoring options pretty much prevents them from surprising anyone. With that said, Carlo Lastimosa is still finding his rhythm, after missing the first game of their schedule, while at the same time, trying to expand his game beyond just scoring. In that regard, Mark Romero has been a big boost with his inside-outside game, but they still lack a reliable third option.

Upcoming Games: SBC on July 22
Defeated EAC 76-60, lost to AU 75-79 (OT) and SSCR 67-73
Over the summer, when presented with JRU and Letran as two teams cut from the same full court pressure cloth, I opted to throw my lot in with the Heavy Bombers. They seemed to have better "big" (medium?) men and their guards just seemed more consistent. Fast-forward to the NCAA proper and it's just been the "big" men doing all the work, with Alex Almario struggling, Nate Matute injured, and Raycon Katibigting needing two games to get his sea legs. Whether or not they can return to the Final Four this season might be gauged by how they handle Mapua later this week.

Upcoming Games: MIT on July 22, UPHSD on July 25 

Defeated JRU 79-75 (OT), lost to EAC 77-84, CSJL 70-88 and SBC 67-92
Of all the new entries to the NCAA since the departure of PCU, Arellano's been the one most likely to get over the hump and into the Final Four, but they lost their third option in Ice Ciriacruz who's sitting out the season to rehab his knee, and the remaining guys have struggled to put points on the board. Now they're second to Mapua in terms of three's attempted, and coach Leo Isaac needs a few wrinkles for his zone defense as well, as perimeter players have been shredding it as of late.

Upcoming Games: LPU on July 20

Lost to FEU 65-74 and ADMU 72-81
The sky's falling over at Taft, but then that's because they were the only people who felt that DLSU would come out of the gate 2-0 when more realistic opinions had them at 1-1. Slim consolation, I know, but the idea of abandoning coach Dindo Pumaren this early in the season will likely be slim consolation as well, especially if the replacement is brother Franz Pumaren. After all, isn't Franz just going to press as well? And didn't Franz make Tonichi Yturri the big man coach over there in the first place? IF in fact the unthinkable happens and DLSU loses to UP on Saturday, and then to NU the week after, then why not give the recently resigned Boris Aldeguer, formerly of Perpetual Help, a call instead?

Upcoming Games: UP on July 23

Lost to UP 61-69 and UST 63-70
UE could conceivably go 0-14, but they'll at least go down swinging thanks to a crew that's essentially all extra-possession guys. Patience is needed with this crew as young point guard Roi Sumang and Chris Javier need a ton of seasoning, but if they're developed properly, could form the basis of a nice one-two punch in two or three seasons.

Upcoming Games: FEU on July 21, ADMU on July 23

Lost to CSJL 65-76, CSB 67-70 and LPU 73-76
The BIGGEST disappointment of the season so far in any league, the Cardinals have simply looked disorganized and lost down the stretch, and in their last two games, they've done so with superstar Allan Mangahas sitting the final minutes out for whatever insane reason their head coach Chito Victolero has in his head. Like La Salle, this is also a team that could see a coaching change happen should their fortunes not change. Friday's game against JRU will be crucial, as another loss will severely hamper their chances of reaching a playoff berth and that means heads will roll.

Upcoming Games: JRU on July 22

Lost to SBC 52-82, LPU 87-93, CSJL 43-74 and SSCR 60-87
There's not a lot you can say about Perptual Help that hasn't been said before. When they lost Marlon Gomez, Paul Nuilan, and head coach Boris Aldeguer, that was essentially like being sentenced to a winless season, and so far, the Altas show no sign of deviating from that path.

Upcoming Games: JRU on July 25

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