Tuesday, July 26, 2011

UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 2 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 or downhill, and other factors like injuries or internal disarray.

Under the cut: A new #1, a new #18, movement on all fronts!

Defeated CSJL 71-62 and LPU 82-57
Last Week: #4 - The Stags haven't missed a beat without Semira, what with Calvin Abueva getting to handle the ball more, and guys like Lyle Antipuesto being able to hit the open triples Abueva and Sangalang create. What's impressive is that this squad's weaknesses couldn't be more obvious: the "Big Three" account for 75% of their team's scoring and they commit the third most turnovers in the league, 22.2 a game, with most of them unforced, and yet, no one has been able to exploit those holes in the Stags' game. Perhaps only San Beda has the personnel? We'll see by the end of the first round. 

Upcoming Games: None
Defeated NU 86-62 and UE 73-61
Last Week: #1 - How does one define dominance? For the Blue Eagles, dominance means scoring the most points in the league, while also holding opponents down to the fewest points per game. Last Thursday's match against NU was a warning shot to all of the other UAAP teams, "Beware, if we start playing at 100%, this is how it's going to look like." The question is, can they actually play like that all the time? The bench continues to be anemic, save for Juami Tiongson who's not shy to shoot, and the offense starts to stall if they aren't making their outside shots. Despite all of that, I'm prepared to believe that coach Norman Black cares not one bit about this team's scoring, as long as it keeps defending the way it does. Even if the rest of this squad's games look like their 55-51 season opener, Black will take it.

Upcoming Games: UP on July 30
Defeated CSB 79-78

Last Week: #2 - Playing without the lead was something coach Frankie Lim was hoping his boys had learned how to do during the summer, when they found themselves down against the likes of Ateneo and La Salle, but apparently playing without the lead against an inferior team was a whole other thing, though the Blazers literally missed on a golden opportunity to show that the Red Lions could bleed. Team supporters are hoping that the collapse inspires the squad to come out stronger and crush opponents earlier, but at least they got proof of Baser Amer's leadership ability in clutch situations, even if he did miss two charities that could have sealed the game late.

Upcoming Games: EAC on July 29, CSJL on August 1
Defeated UST 81-71

Last Week: #7 - So, all-avian UAAP Finals right? Adamson's ability to jump out to hot starts has gotten everyone in San Marcelino fired up. And while the transition offense has been pretty, it's this squad's team defense that's a work of art. In consecutive games, the Falcons held Ateneo to their lowest output so far, shut down RR Garcia, and then contained Jeric Fortuna and Kevin Ferrer. Even Austin Manyara has been decent, pulling down rebounds and blocking shots. The only fly in the ointment has been Jan Colina (4.7 points, 5.3 rebounds) spending all his time on the perimeter, looking to hoist up long two's or triples. Remember when this guy was a beast down low? Colina doesn't. 

Upcoming Games: UE on July 28, NU on July 21

Defeated UE 66-47 and NU 62-59

Last Week: #8 - You can take the images of a high-octane Tamaraws offense, particularly of last season, out of your brain now and junk it in a trashcan because coach Bert Flores has discovered that this incarnation of the team can't play like that, not when he's only got RR Garcia to drop 20 points on opposing teams (Terrence who?). That's means it's back to basics, grind-it-out style again for the Tams, a tactic that worked splendidly against the NU Bulldogs. I fully expect to see his tactic of a 2-3 zone, with Christian Sentcheu in the middle, more often, as it neutralizes the foreign big men of the other squads, and saves Aldrech Ramos from expending a ton of energy playing 1 on 1.

Upcoming Games: UST on July 30
Lost to SSCR 62-71
Last Week: #3 - Kevin Alas made a ton of improvement sharing the ball between the summer tournaments and the NCAA proper, but the Knights missed his scoring late against the Stags, as they couldn't keep in step with the game-clinching run by Calvin Abueva and Ian Sanglang. Despite the loss though, there are a ton of positives coach Louie Alas can extract from the game, most importantly how well his undersized big men Jam Cortes and Jonathan Belorio operated down low. Raymond Almazan was also a revelation. As the only real height the Knights can bring to the table, his continued improvement means there's a seat at the Final Four for Letran if they want it.

Upcoming Games: CSB on July 27, UPHDS on July 29

Defeated AU 84-74, lost to SSCR 57-82

Last Week: #6 - As the only team in the NCAA that has played seven games already, Lyceum no doubt welcomes this week long break with open arms. Based on their body of work, it becomes clear that the Pirates have the talent to beat all of the bottom half NCAA teams, which means they could conceivably finish with enough wins to sneak into the last spot of the Final Four. That said, San Sebastian may have shown other squads how to beat them: slow the tempo down, and deny them open looks at the three. With no Pirates in double figures, the Stags romped, ending another two-game win streak for Lyceum.

Upcoming Games: None
Lost to ADU 71-81

Last Week: #5 - Have the Tigers peaked already, just three games into the season? The Adamson Falcons showed that if you're going to shut a player or two down on this team, that guy is not Jeric Teng, who jacks up a ton of terrible shots anyway (13% from downtown, 29% from the field), but Jeric Fortuna, with Kevin Ferrer coming in a close second. With their point guard out of sync and misfiring from long range, the Tigers weren't able to string together enough shots for an actual comeback. But one thing that went unnoticed was the stellar play of reserve big men Karim Abdul (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Melo Afuang (14 points on 6/6 shooting). If Coach Jarencio can incorporate these two more into the offense, the Tigers might not need to take so many triples after all.

Upcoming Games: FEU on July 30
No games
Last Week: #9 - The Generals stay locked into their position as a result of having played not a single game this past week. They've get two important match-ups coming up though, which will probably help fans determine if they are truly Final Four worthy or not, but in both cases, the odds will be stacked against them. They'll be without Claude Cubo in their match-up with MIT because of his stupid foul against Onofre Napiza when they played Lyceum, thus conceding a lot of height to Yousef Taha and company. Then they'll be up against a San Beda Red Lions team that will be looking to blow out their next opponent after nearly getting upset by CSB. No doubt they'll be hoping the week-long prep will give them enough of an edge, but a 1-1 split is the most realistic outcome.

Upcoming Games: MIT on July 27, SBC on July 29

Defeated UP 79-67
Last Week: #15 - Panic was averted in Taft as the Archers finally notched win number one and in pretty impressive fashion, stringing together some extended scoring runs, while incorporating big man Arnold Van Opstal into the mix. That said, La Salle fans ought to not oversell the win because the deck was heavily stacked in their favor. Save for a blistering hot shooting performance from downtown by UP, there was no way the Maroons were going to match-up with La Salle's height and depth. And so the focus ought to return to coach Dindo Pumaren's rotation, which once again featured 14 out of 16 available players. Do we really need 5 and 4 minute stints for rookies Ponso Gotladera and Dan Sara when Jovet Mendoza and Joshua Webb played just 2 minutes each? Their match against NU on Thursday will have huge say on who makes the Final Four in two months.

Upcoming Games: NU on July 28, UE on July 31

Lost to DLSU 67-79

Last Week: #11 - Depressing stat for UP fans: the Maroons are now 1 and 20 in their last 21 games, stretching back to season 72. For all the fight this incarnation of the squad has, they don't have a lot of depth, and they suffer from having too many non-scorers, especially in the frontcourt. When you can ignore the likes of Miggy Maniego, Paolo Romero, Moriah Gingerich and Mark Juruena, that basically leaves only four guards to stop: Mike Silungan, Mike Gamboa, Jett Manuel and Jelo Montecastro. And when they're not shooting the three-ball well (just 4 makes in each of the last 2 games), there's not a lot more that UP can do to put points on the board. 

Upcoming Games: ADMU on July 30
Defeated MIT 70-69, lost to UPHSD 77-79 (3OT)
Last Week: #13 - Just when everyone thought that JRU had gotten their house in order, they went and fell in triple overtime against the Perpetual Help Altas, their second overtime loss already. Does that mean they're bad, or just unlucky? Perhaps a mix of both. After Raycon Kabigting dropped 14 against Mapua, the team captain regressed back to 5 points, despite 15 extra minutes of play. In my mind, the offense ought to go exclusively through their big men, John Lopez, Jeckster Apinan and Ronnel Carampil, but when the trio combines for 18 turnovers even that might not be the most safe route. They have the week off so one can hope that they'll regroup, and come back with a healthy Nate Matute in tow to add some scoring from the guard positions.

Upcoming Games: None 

Defeated JRU 79-77 (3OT)
Last Week: #18 - The Altas finally got Jeorge Allen back from injury after missing three games, and appropriately enough, it was Allen who laid in the gamewinning score after three overtime periods. It will be interesting to see how his return affects the chances of this squad winning. They've obviously struggled with him out, but he didn't set the world on fire either in his short stint against SBC. That said, if he can improve on his 10 point, 4.8 rebound average of last season, even just slightly, that might be enough to get them a win or two, especially with a match-up with CSB looming.

Upcoming Games: CSB on July 29

Lost to SBC 78-79
Last Week: #12 - Credit needs to be given to head coach Richard Del Rosario for coming inches away from defeating the San Beda Red Lions, but what Lions coach Frankie Lim said during the press con afterwards is also correct, "Their zone was nothing special. It was just a 2-3 zone." A combination of a fired-up Blazers squad and a lethargic San Beda team was what nearly did the defending champions in. So the question then becomes, can the Blazers be that pumped up to play the non-marquee teams on their schedule, like a UPHDS Altas? Also, Del Rosario needs to find more minutes for Jonathan Grey (20 minutes, 9.3/3.8/2),  and Paolo Taha (19.5 minutes, 8.8/4.5/2), two guard/forwards who can definitely ball.

Upcoming Games: CSJL on July 27, UPHDS on July 29
Lost to ADMU 62-86 and FEU 59-62
Last Week: #10 - And suddenly, the Bulldogs don't look anything like a Final Four team, getting blown out by Ateneo, followed by a blanking in the fourth quarter bu FEU. An over-reliance on Bobby Ray Parks is the easy scapegoat but the offense can be more creative. In the fourth quarter versus the Tamaraws, Parks didn't touch the ball until the very end when he was forced to jack up triples. At the very least, the NU coaching staff ought to think about moving him off some screens, getting him in pick and rolls. Making matters worse is the regression of Emmanuel Mbe (6.5 points, 5 rebounds in his last two games), who's gone from stud to dud.

Upcoming Games: DLSU on July 28, ADU on July 31

Lost to LPU 74-84
Last Week: #14 - Coach Leo Isaac's experiment of going with a shorter rotation quickly went out the window as foul trouble, including gambling that players wouldn't pick up a fourth if he kept them on the floor (never worked), forced him to turn to his bench. One can see why he would consider the move though, because his reserves have barely produced (9.9 points on average). Combined with the fact that Andrian Celada is struggling heavily though (14% from 3pt, 30% from the field) and the Chiefs simply can't put enough points on the board to stay competitive, zone or no zone.

Upcoming Games: MIT on August 1

Lost to FEU 47-66 and ADMU 61-73

Last Week: #16 - Some tenacious man to man defense by the UE Red Warriors nearly gave Ateneo a scare last Saturday, but they were unable to sustain it, especially once the big men started picking up their fourth fouls. UE also played well in their first quarter against FEU, posting a huge lead first quarter lead before the Tams finally woke up. It may take an entire round, but the Warriors are learning from their mistakes and eventually they'll pin a loss on someone, even if it has to be UP. Like coach Pumaren of DLSU though, Codinera needs to find a rotation and stick to it, because who starts and how long someone gets to play fluctuates wildly in each game.

Upcoming Games: ADU on July 28, DLSU on July 31

Lost to JRU 69-70

Last Week: #17 - What is it with the fourth quarter and the Cardinals? The well runs dry for this squad past the thirty minute mark as suddenly everyone forgets how to put the ball through the basket. And just when it seemed like coach Chito Victolero learned his lesson about leaving Allan Mangahas on the floor in crunchtime, his own center Yousef Taha cracks his skull with a nasty elbow, forcing Mangahas off the court. Obviously this team has talent, you don't get to hang within seven points of Ateneo in a FilOil quarterfinals game without it, so save for another revamp of the rotation, what else is there to do? Oh yeah, paging Koy Banal..

Upcoming Games: EAC on July 27, AU on August 1

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