Wednesday, August 31, 2011


History Lesson:
The UP Fighting Maroons felt good about themselves for a quarter, taking a 21-19 lead into the second period. It didn't last though as Ateneo exploded from the perimeter, getting three triples and three-shot trip to the foul line to swing the lead back to the defending champs, 42-31 at the break. The Maroons tried several rally attempts, with their last one slicing the lead to just eight, 62-54, but after baskets by Kirk Long and Nico Salva padded it back up to 67-54, UP imploded, getting a technical slapped on their head coach for arguing a call, followed by a shot to Salva's groin by Carlo Gomez. The final tally stood at 77-57, and the Maroons did not have a single player in double digit scoring, while all five of Ateneo's starters accomplished that feat. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • The 2-9 UP Fighting Maroons are out of the running, but they'll be looking to play the spoiler role on their fellow Katipunan university 
  • At 11-0, the Ateneo Blue Eagles are three games away from an elimination round sweep. That journey starts now as they look to avoid a letdown after a huge win against their arch-rivals. 

UP Stat to Watch : UP's offense in the second round has been a disaster, breaking the 60 point barrier just once, in their first game of the round versus UST when they scored 70. Since then, they've normed just 49 points a game, due in part to the fact that they norm the least two-point attempts and makes, and as a result, the fewest field goal makes. They're also dead last at getting to the line, as the only team that averages single-digit free throw attempts.
UP Player to Watch : Alinko Mbah has become a non-factor in the past few games, averaging just two points and 6.25 rebounds in the second round, with just three blocks total. As the guy tasked to defend Greg Slaughter, he has to make sure he doesn't give up any useless fouls, or else the entire UP interior will open up for Ateneo.

ADMU Stat to Watch : Ateneo has dominated on offense in the second round, leading the league in free throws made, assists, fastbreak points, turnover points, and points in the paint. Given how anemic the UP offense has been, if the Eagles turn this into a shootout, it's unlikely UP will be able to compete.
ADMU Player to Watch : Tonino Gonzaga has been the super-sub for Ateneo this season, averaging seven points, three rebounds, one assist and one triple in the second round. But he's a two-way player, just as capable of shutting down guys on the defensive end as he is burying you from downtown. That makes him the perfect player to clamp down on whichever shooter UP head coach Ricky Dandan brings off his bench.

Prediction: ADMU Blue Eagles


History Lesson:
The Falcons jumped out to a big lead and never looked back, starting the game with an 11-0 run that the Red Warriors could not get rid of, forcing them into catch-up mode for the rest of the game. Despite entering halftime up 39-27, the Falcons continued to pile it on, ballooning UE's deficit to as high as 75-40, before the third-stringers entered the game. Ultimately, the score was settled at 85-54. Paul Zamar came off the UE bench to lead all scorers with 18 points but it was far from enough. On the other side, Lester Alvarez dropped 16 including four triples, ending a mini-slump for the spitfire point guard.  (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • At 2-9, the UE Red Warriors have nothing but the spoiler role in mind, as they try to make life difficult for the Final Four contending teams.
  • A game ahead of FEU for the second twice-to-beat advantage (assuming Ateneo does not sweep) at 8-3, the Adamson Falcons want to make sure they keep ahead of the Tams, while getting momentum heading into their final assignment of the season, a rematch of their season opener with Ateneo

UE Stat to Watch : After two games of shooting an average of 41.04 percent, 32.24 percent from the perimeter, UE saw their numbers dip drastically against the UST defense to 30.51 percent from the field and just 21.05 percent from the perimeter. Considering how Adamson is tops at defending the perimeter, those numbers may even go lower in this game.
UE Player to Watch : Seldom-used big man RR De Leon gave his squad a nice lift with five points and six rebounds in 14 minutes against UST. If the Falcons will look to establish Austin Manyara's offense like they did versus UP, they'll need De Leon and Chris Javier to try to contain the big man.

ADU Stat to Watch : Adamson continues to shut opponents down in the second round, holding opponents to a league best 58 points. UE was competitive versus Ateneo and La Salle because they at the very least hit the 70 point margin, so if the Falcons defense holds, the Red Warriors might be in for a long afternoon.
ADU Player to Watch : The UP defense keyed in on Alex Nuyles, preventing him from scoring in double digits for the first time this season. Nuyles still managed to contribute in other ways though, hauling down 10 rebounds for the second straight game and dishing out a career-high seven assists. He'll likely look to get back on track versus UE in this game.

Prediction: Adamson Soaring Falcons

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


History Lesson:
Foul trouble hit the Letran Knights early and often, saddling their starting backcourt of Franz Dysam and Kevin Alas with two fouls each, and then they were quickly joined by Jam Cortes after an offensive foul got him number two. The situation continued to deteriorate in the third as Dysam and Alas each got their third within seconds of each other. In truth, it didn't actually matter, as Coach Alas gambled by keeping his son Kevin in the game, as he and his reserves built a 39-30 advantage at the half, one that stretched to 68-50 with three minutes to go in the game, allowing Letran to field in their reserves, winning this one 70-59. Alas' 18 points led both sides, but JRU's John Lopez came close, scoring 16. (Recap here

What's at Stake:
  • At 8-2, Letran wants to keep its record as pristine as possible, waiting for the moment to pounce on San Sebastian or San Beda to take them down a notch. Or who knows, if another team does them the favor of striking an upset, the Knights will surely pounce on the opportunity gifted to them. 
  • The 3-7 JRU Heavy Bombers are down but not out. They're technically only two games out of the fourth spot, meaning if they can reverse course in the second round, they could make a return trip to the Final Four. That might be easier said than done though.

CSJL Stat to Watch : The Letran Knights have a tendency to overfoul, owing to the physical brand of basketball they play. They norm 26.5 whistles a game, sending opponents to the line for an average of 29.5 times. What's strange though is that they're not tops in that category, as JRU opponents norm 31.3 trips to the line. Regardless, it may not be much of an issue, given how poor these two squads shoot foul shots. Letran is third worst at 59.49 percent, while JRU is the worst, shooting 56.3 percent.
CSJL Player to Watch : According to head coach Louie Alas, Raymond Almazan needs to either score in double digits or get double digit rebounds in each game, or the 6'7" center owes the coach something. Almazan got just four points and seven boards versus Arellano, so he's going to look to bounce back. In their first encounter, Almazan hauled down a whopping 17 rebounds, and blocked four shots, dominating the interior for the Knights.

JRU Stat to Watch : Maybe the Heavy Bombers are too predictable, or maybe their players are just a step slower. Whatever it is, JRU happens to give up the most steals, 7.1 a game, and blocks, 5.2 a game, to their opponents. Ironically, the Knights are near the top in both those areas, getting 6.3 swipes per encounter, second best in the league, and an NCAA-best 5.4 rejections.
JRU Player to Watch : After five consecutive games of double-digit scoring, John Lopez suddenly found himself shackled by the opposition, with the exception of a 16 point, six rebound effort against the Knights. Lopez took advantage of foul trouble to Jam Cortes and the exit of Jonathan Belorio due to injury to score, but if both manage to stay on the court this time, he could be in for a long afternoon.

Prediction: Letran Knights


History Lesson: 
It took awhile, but when the San Sebastian Stags finally put their foot down on the necks of the Arellano Chiefs, the result was a brilliant, high-scoring affair that saw big performances from the main guys of last season's runners-up. The Stags started the game 22-12 after the first quarter, shrugging off some comeback tries to get to 47-34 in the third period. However, Andrian Celada capped off an Arellano rally with a triple that got them to 49-43 with four minutes to go in the quarter. Then with 31 seconds left, Rocky Acidre scored to make it 57-54. That was a close as they got though, as the Stags unleashed their full transition game, scoring on outlet passes directly from the rebounder, to arrive at the final score, 92-79. The highlight of the Stags was Calvin Abueva's triple-double: 18 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, the first and so far only triple-double this season. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • The 4-7 Arellano Chiefs are just a game and a half behind the 5-5 Lyceum Pirates who currently hold the number four seed. A win against the best team not only gives them upward movement in the standings, the morale boost would be extraordinary, as will opening the door to other teams believing they can take down the top two teams, causing a possible large shift in the standings. It is also important to note that this is the first of two games that head coach Leo Isaac will miss as he is currently in the U.S. on a scouting trip.
  • At 10-0, the Stags would like to stay perfect, and after a long break, ought to be in game mode right from the opening tip.

AU Stat to Watch : After a three-game stretch (MIT, SSCR, CSB) that saw them norm just 11.33 trips to the foul line per game, the Chiefs have been attacking the rim with renewed vigor, getting to the line 30 times since the final game of the first round versus Perpetual Help. If they can get any of the big three in foul trouble, that will go along way to getting a win.
AU Player to Watch : Mark Doligon had his breakout game against the Stags, playing double digit minutes for the first time all season, rewarding his coach's belief in him with a team-high 17 points. Since then he's been a consistent contributor to the squad, both as a starter and as a reserve. It would be a nice case of symmetry if he can come up big against San Sebastian once more.

SSCR Stat to Watch : Though the Stags take the fewest triples in the league, just 13.1 a game, they're adept at getting out and running (14.4 fastbreak points, second in the league) and scoring off turnovers (14.9, fourth in the NCAA). That means it won't just be Arellano's 2-3 zone that will be important, it'll be their transition defense as well, cutting off easy layups from the likes of Abueva and Ronald Pascual.
SSCR Player to Watch : Reserve guard Lyle Antipuesto is the Stags' best three-point shooter, making 8 of his 15 long-range shots so far this season. Antipuesto had a cameo role, just four minutes, in the first round meeting between these two teams but with head coach Topex Robinson looking to give his reserves more minutes to build their confidence, he could get the nod against the zone.

Prediction: SSCR Stags

UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 7 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.

The middle of the rankings have changed dramatically, as in the UAAP, one team lands the number four spot and looks to solidify their hold on it as the post-season looms, while over in the NCAA, former cellar-dwellers begin to find new life in the second round, with an eye to toppling Lyceum from the fourth seed. Also in there, a shift in the top spot again!

One Day Later: AU vs EAC, MIT vs UPHSD

AU 78 - EAC 70
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : It's one of those times when I have to give this to someone on the losing team. Remy Morada basically kept the EAC Generals from losing by 20+ points (exaggeration, but still) with his out of nowhere 28 point explosion, 17 coming in the third quarter, when EAC briefly harbored comeback aspirations. He shot 11 of 16 from the field, 5 of 7 from downtown, and added five rebounds, three assists and two steals in the process, to just two turnovers, while playing 35 minutes. Without Milan Vargas and Joshua Torralba, the Generals were lucky to find another talent on their bench to keep them competitive.

AU Positives :
  • Head coach Leo Isaac expanded his rotation to include 10 players, and the move allowed him to keep his guys fresh (with the exception of Andrian Celada, who played 38 minutes). The reserves were led once again by Mark Doligon, whose hot shooting led to 14 markers, as well as four boards, two assists and two blocks. 
  • The Chiefs outhustled the Generals in fastbreak points, 13 to 8, and in turnover points, 18 to 10. They also tallied a whopping 20 to 8 advantage in assists.
  • Seeing the depleted Generals line-up before them, the Chiefs decided to attack, attack, attack. EAC as a result, had one guy foul out and three players tagged with four fouls. With an already shortened line-up, that forced head coach Gerry Esplana's hand, putting third-stringers on the court. Another consequence was that Arellano got 40 looks at the foul stripe, of which they converted 28.
AU Negatives :
  • Arellano managed just 35 percent shooting, despite playing an already poor defensive team stripped of some of their more athletic players.

EAC Positives :
  • EAC was at least able to go down swinging despite their numbers. They also managed to shoot well (when they took care of the ball), leading to 43 percent shooting on the balance, 24 of 56 from the field, and a scorching 8 of 17 stint from beyond the arc.
EAC Negatives :
  • The Generals still couldn't take care of the ball, resulting in 21 turnovers that the Chiefs pounced on. Six of those came from Claude Cubo, and five were from Jan Jamon, their two most veteran players.
  • After a slow start, the Generals forgot about Jolas Paguia for awhile, only to realize he created mismatches with the Arellano bigs, using him to break their fourth quarter dry spell by getting him into the post. In truth, they should have gone to the post more often with him and Cubo, instead of hanging around throwing up jumpers, regardless of how good their shooting percentage wound up being. It could have still been higher. 
  • Only eight assists again for this team. Even without Torralba, this squad still succumbed to one on one play.

MIT 65  - UPHSD 62
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Josan Nimes is becoming the face of the Mapua Cardinals. Nimes sparked Mapua's second quarter comeback, and then helped seal the game with six in the fourth quarter and the huge assist to Yousef Taha for a critical score late. He finished with 21 markers on 7 of 13 shooting, 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, three rebounds and three assists. Nimes also shows great awareness, mixing up his long-range bombs with drives to the basket to keep the defense honest.

MIT Positives :
  • The Cardinals have been winning games late, a far cry from their early season collapses. Now if they can just start posting big leads early...
MIT Negatives :
  • Despite a three-big man line-up to start the game, the Cardinals still found themselves being out-rebounded by 10 at the end of the first half. This despite the lack of height on the Perpetual side. Thankfully, they managed to control the boards late, especially in the second to the last possession where they kept getting the missed free throws for return trips to the line.
  • Despite getting 28 free throws, the Cardinals made just 13 for 46 percent shooting from the line. They've been insanely inconsistent from that area, averaging around 60 percent.

UPHSD Positives :
  • Once again the Altas came out looking to out-work their opponents, and it worked early on until their shots stopped falling. They can take some pride in the fact that they managed to out-rebound Mapua by 10 after twenty minutes though. 
  • Jett Vidal had an extremely efficient game, getting all 15 of his points from beyond the arc, while shooting fifty percent, 5 of 10.
UPHSD Negatives :
  • On the last play of the game, the Altas couldn't get the ball into Jett Vidal's hands, and were forced to settle for a Chris Elopre triple. I would have still forced it to Vidal due to his hot shooting, and the fact that they had enough time to try to bump off Jumel Chien, his defender, by running him through a screen or something similar. 
  • Despite their lack of height, the Altas did not even get a single fastbreak attempt for easy points. They also were unable to take advantage of Mapua's 18 turnovers, getting a mere five points off those miscues.

NCAA Picking Record: 39-14-1 (I forgot to pick between MIT and UPHSD)

Monday, August 29, 2011

One Day Later: UST vs UE, ADMU vs DLSU

UST 54 - UE 45
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Just like Ateneo won on the back of Greg Slaughter, so too did the UST Growling Tigers win on the back of Karim Abdul, as their 6'5" big man dominated the UE frontline to the tune of 16 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. On both sides of the court, Abdul gave the Red Warriors headaches as they had no one who could match-up with him, and that allowed his teammates to get open looks at the rim.

UST Positives :
  • Chris Camus excels in this sort of back and forth, freewheeling affair, tallying six points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block. His combination of speed, height and length bothered a lot of the jump-shooting UE bigs, preventing them from getting off clean looks. 
  • Tight defense by the Growling Tigers allowed them to hold the Red Warriors to just half of their first half output, allowing just 15 points over the third and fourth quarters, as UE shot a measly 5 of 31. 
UST Negatives :

  • Louie Vigil's inability to make a layup had head coach Pido Jarencio nearly falling to the floor in disbelief. Guarded on a fastbreak, Vigil understandably missed the first, but he got his own miss when his UE defender flew by him, giving him a wide open look. He missed that too, to the groans of the UST crowd.
  • Coming into the game as the number one rebounding team in the league, the Tigers found themselves outmatched on the boards in the first half, conceding eight more boards. They managed to rally in the second half though, knotting the number of boards at 49 each. 

UE Positives :
  • The Red Warriors got a huge lift from bench players BJ Zosa (seven points, six rebounds, two assists in 10 minutes) and RR De Leon (five points, six rebounds in 14 minutes) as the two players carried UE in the second quarter to a 30-24 lead at the break.
UE Negatives :
  • Everyone has to miss sometime, and that's certainly what happened in this game. After providing some sweet shooting versus La Salle and Ateneo, both Paul Zamar and JM Noble regressed to the mean, shooting 2/5 and 1/9 respectively, as they couldn't provide the offensive spark the Red Warriors needed desperately.
  • UST is not a team know for forcing turnovers, so that means the Red Warriors somehow committed 16 first half turnovers on their own volition, before finishing with 25. That led to 19 turnover points by the Tigers, a huge advantage in such a low-scoring game.
  • Related to that, UE had just five turnover points, compared to the 19 of UST. Similarly, they also finished with a whopping zero fastbreak points, while the Growling Tigers tallied 17. It was just the second time this season a team finished with nothing in that category (ADU was the first, versus DLSU in the second round)
  • UE drew just six trips to the free throw line, all coming in the second half as the Tigers had no need to foul the jump-shot happy team.
Sunday Salva-tion - with all the focus on Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva made La Salle pay (pic source)

ADMU 79 - DLSU 62
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Tonino Gonzaga came off the bench and gave the Blue Eagles a huge shot in the arm. Defensively, Gonzaga smothered a host of DLSU guards, from Jarelan Tampus to Almond Vosotros, LA Revilla, and Luigi Dela Paz, preventing them from mounting a comeback attempt. Offensively, Gonzaga was an inside-outside threat, knocking down two triples and slashing to the rim in transition. The fourth year super sub tallied 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals overall, and was one of four Eagles who finished in double-digit scoring.

ADMU Positives :
  • The Blue Eagles showed off their depth by staying out ahead even without Greg Slaughter, who went down with foul trouble four minutes into the first period, and then sat out the rest of the first half. At halftime, they were up 31-26, and the lead only grew from that point onwards, with Slaughter's return.
  • Ateneo simply outclassed La Salle, beating them out in a variety of categories. The only stats that had La Salle ahead were two-point percentage (48.15 percent for Ateneo versus 50 percent for La Salle) and perimeter points (15 for ADMU and 16 for DLSU).
  • Nico Salva bounced back from a horrible encounter versus UE to lead the Eagles with 19 points on 9 of 18 shooting, just one of four Ateneans that finished in double-digits scoring.
ADMU Negatives :
  • We didn't get another Gwynne Capacio versus La Salle moment. 

DLSU Positives :

  • Taking advantage of Greg Slaughter's reluctance to foul, Arnold Van Opstal led the Archers with 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting.
  • Well the Archers played well in the first half with Slaughter out, down just five points. 
DLSU Negatives :

  • The rotation of head coach Dindo Pumaren continues to frustrate green shirts everywhere, as he pulls his best scorers from the floor, moments after they've begun to heat up, while his constant shuffling prevents those already on the floor from finding a rhythm. In particular, Jarelan Tampus and Almond Vosotros should have had more time on the floor, but he instead gave guys like Simon Atkins and Joseph Marata the nod despite their obvious struggles. 
  • La Salle tried many different variations of the press, throwing out the 2-2-1 zone that UE used on them two defeats ago. Ateneo easily broke them all though, sometimes even just driving into the heart of the press and shrugging it off, as guys like Bacon Austria, Emman Monfort and Kirk Long had an easy time getting the ball across the halfcourt line.
  • Once again free throws were a huge problem for La Salle. Both teams had 22 charities, but Ateneo converted 18 of them, while La Salle hit just 10. 
  • La Salle continues to cannibalize their more veteran players, as they simply could not produce anything. Maui Villanueva, Joshua Webb, Simon Atkins and Jovet Mendoza, DLSU's oldest tenured players, managed just 12 points between them. 

UAAP Picking Record: 33-11

Sunday, August 28, 2011


History Lesson:
One would think that possessing four or so players standing 6'5" or taller would give you an advantage over the smallest team in the league. Think again, as the Mapua Cardinals were content to bomb away against the 2-3 zone of Perpetual Help, as the two squads combined to go 16 of 53 from outside the arc. Though the Altas led early, as the Cardinals' triples weren't falling,  Rodel Ranises and Jonathan Banal found their range late, crafting a 10-point, 57-47 lead in the final period that looked unbeatable, until Perpetual Help nearly did just that. In the end, it came down to a triple, as Perpetual Help's Jett Vidal missed a triple that he had to double clutch at the buzzer, allowing Mapua to escape, 65-63. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • The one-time cellar dwelling Mapua Cardinals find themselves in solo fifth place with a 4-6 record, behind the 5-5 Lyceum Pirates, their second round win against the CSB Blazers helping to knock that team down the standings.  A win here allows them to move up to just a half game behind for fourth, allowing them fulfill preseason expectations. 
  • The 2-9 Perpetual Help Altas are happy playing spoiler, and are in fact a team Mapua should thank for playing a role in the slump the Blazers are currently embroiled in. They most likely have no problem doing the same thing to the Cardinals though, especially considering how they came really close in round one. 

MIT Stat to Watch : The Cardinals got just a combined 10 points from their bigs, six from Yousef Taha and four from Mike Parala, in their first encounter with Perpetual Help. Similarly, against St. Benilde, Parala, Taha and Mike Sarangay totaled just 21 out of a 94 point win. "Bombs away" seems to be their motto, regardless of how tall the other team is, and one of these days, it's going to bite them in the rear. 
MIT Player to Watch : Who would have thought before the season that Josan Nimes would be having a better rookie season than Yousef Taha? Probably no one, but Nimes just posted back to back 20+ point games, as the only Cardinal willing to drive into the lane and head to the line. He's a mismatch waiting to happen given his height and shooting ability, something that will come in handy against the tiny Altas team.

UPHSD Stat to Watch : Sloppy play by the Cardinals allowed Perpetual Help to hang close, as Mapua made a whopping 21 errors, compared to just eight by the Altas, giving the host school a 22 to 4 turnover point advantage. That's something they'll obviously be looking for again in this round two encounter.
UPHSD Player to Watch : A healthy George Allen equals a tougher Altas team, as the multi-talented forward averages 10.67 points while shooting 36 percent from downtown, 41 percent overall, plus he grabs 6.33 rebounds a game. He could provide that extra push to put Perpetual Help over the top after the close nature of the first game between these two teams.

EDIT: Forgot to add a prediction! 


History Lesson:
Jolas Paguia made a big splash in his NCAA debut, keying in a huge 19-2 fourth quarter run that upended the Arellano Chiefs in the final period, part of a 34-18 final period that pulled the EAC Generals back from the brink to start off their season with a win, 84-77. Paguia, a former FEU-FERN Baby Tam, scored 22 points and was 9 of 14 from the field with nine rebounds, as his ability to stretch the floor, combined with his size, gave the Arellano zone fits. Rocky Acidre led the Chiefs with 21 markers, but they simply could not sustain the lead. (Recap here

What's at Stake:
  • Both these teams are tied at 3-7, albeit headed in different directions. The Generals started out hot with wins against the Chiefs and Lyceum, but they've floundered after that with the offense becoming increasingly stagnant. On the other hand, the Chiefs were able to come back from a sluggish start to the season, notching victories against St. Benilde and Perpetual Help in the latter part of the first round. A win here ties the victor with idle CSB at 4-7, while the loser falls to 3-8, making any prospective battle for the fourth seed a dim affair.

AU Stat to Watch : A renewed focus on defense has given the Chiefs a 2-1 record in their last three games. After allowing opponents to make nearly 50 percent of their field goals in their first seven games, the Chiefs have held their foes to an average of 37.97 percent shooting. After giving up 51 percent when they first played EAC, that's the sort of thing that might result in a win.
AU Player to Watch : Against a team that puts no defensive pressure on the point guard, Rocky Acidre posted his best game of the season, 21 points on on 7 of 11 shooting, three rebounds, two assists, and most importantly, zero turnovers. He hasn't been as efficient shooting the ball or taking care of it, so maybe another match with EAC will revitalize the embattled point guard.

EAC Stat to Watch : In this game versus Arellano, the Generals tallied 22 assists, but since then, they haven't even broke 15, as they've succumbed to plenty of isolation and one on one plays. The EAC coaching staff ought to do themselves a favor and replay the game film of this encounter to see how they were able to share the ball so effectively and where the heck it went.
EAC Player to Watch : Speaking of guards who had great first games and then disappeared into the aether, Milan Vargas showed no problems coming back from a knee injury over the summer, kick-starting the season with 18 points on 67 percent shooting and five assists, number he hasn't come close to replicating since. Here's hoping he regains his groove against the Chiefs again.

Prediction: Arellano Chiefs

One Day Later: ADU vs UP, FEU vs NU

Higher ceiling - the Falcons soared over a tenacious UP team (pic source)

ADU 64 - UP 51
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : With Alex Nuyles and Lester Alvarez having off-nights (combined 6 of 20 from the field), Janus Lozada stepped up to the plate to score 16 points on 50 percent field goal shooting, and a 5 for 6 free throw clip, while also pulling down nine rebounds. His combination of size, leaping ability and quick release gave UP fits as they couldn't match-up against him, especially considering how they already had Mike Silungan on Nuyles.

ADU Positives :
  • The story of this game was UP getting close or taking the lead, and then Adamson responding in kind with huge runs. No doubt, head coach Leo Austria was happy to see the Falcons tested and respond in kind multiple times to boot. 
  • Austin Manyara stepped up to the plate, outplaying his counterpart on the other end Alinko Mbah, scoring his first career double-double, with 13 points and 12 rebounds. If he can become a more reliable scorer and threat down low, the Falcons become a much more dangerous team. 
  • Led by Manyara's 12 boards, Adamson dominated the glass, getting a 53-32 rebounding edge, 17-9 on offensive rebounds. That translated into 11 second chance points, compared to just four by UP.
  • Tight defense once again was the difference for Adamson, holding the Maroons to their lowest percentage from downtown in the second round, 15 percent.
ADU Negatives :
  • The Falcons soared out to an 11-2 lead...and then scored just two more points the entire first quarter. That's the sort of lapse on offense that another team would punish Adamson for, so they're lucky it was just UP they were playing against. 

UP Positives :
  • Well, the Maroons were able to get Jett Manuel back online again, as the sophomore shooter knocked in 11 points, all in the second half, eight coming in the fourth quarter. He struggled early on due to the length of Janus Lozada, but settled down late. 
UP Negatives :
  • Mike Silungan is now 5 of 39 from beyond the arc in the second round. He also happens to be 0 for 16 in the last two games. 
  • Linked to that, the Maroons continued to settle for outside shots, refusing to attack the rim. As a result, UP tallied just six free throw attempts, their third straight game in the second round with single digit free throw attempts. They lead the league in that category, with four.
  • After starting the season norming 17.6 fastbreak points in their first five games, the Maroons have averaged just 9.33 in that category since.

FEU 84 - NU 82
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : In a game chock-full of flawed performance, we'll go off the board here and hand this award to Ping Exciminiano. Though he played just 14 minutes, Exciminiano managed to score 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting to go with three rebounds and a steal. Exciminiano also gave Bobby Ray Parks a difficult time, shadowing the taller, more athletic forward. While one can rightfully argue that he misused his fouls, thus getting him sat down with a minute to go in the third quarter, it was Flores' fault for leaving him out there so long in the first place.

FEU Positives :
  • Multiple-overtime cliche #1: "You're just happy to have survived it." Maybe, but you're going to feel a lot better about it if you win, which is what happened for the Tamaraws, keeping them in step with Adamson as they threaten to steal the number two spot. 
  • When NU went to a zone, FEU decided to break it with some three-pointers, a fairly typical response, except that they were getting the treys from their big men, as Aldrech Ramos and Russel Escoto combined to go 4/4 from outside the arc. They actually did much better than Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, who were 2 of 11 from long-distance.
  • The odds were horrible stacked against FEU, what with three guys out and then RR Garcia suffering some sort of hand injury that messed up his shooting, followed of course by Exciminiano's early exit. And yet, the Tams still won, and they have a full week to recuperate to boot. 
  • FEU just valued their possessions more, committing just 15 turnovers, while assisting on more than half of their scores (33 field goals on 18 dimes). That stood out, compared to the panicked feel from the NU players.
FEU Negatives :
  • Terrence Romeo's statline says he finished with no turnovers. Fine, but he committed a boneheaded foul on Bobby Ray Parks in the second overtime, sending him to the line where he luckily produced just a split, saving Romeo from public humiliation or something. He even had great numbers in this game, 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, all of which would have been thrown out the window had they lost because of him.
  • The Tamaraws clearly needed more big men up front, as they lost the rebounding battle pretty closely, 46-44, but more importantly, not a single person had double-digit boards, not even Gilas mainstay Aldrech Ramos.

NU Positives :
  • The Bulldogs hung with FEU in the first two quarters, despite losing Emmanuel Mbe to foul trouble, and then proceeded to take the lead in the third quarter thanks to some shutdown defense. If NU played more like that throughout the season, they would have been in much better shape than they are now. 
  • Despite not winning the game, Bobby Ray Parks still had a great performance that even had some clutch moments. He attained a new season high, 32 points, through 7 of 18 field goal shooting, but more importantly, 15 of 18 free throw shooting. And after game after game of him settling for outside jumper over and over in past crunchtime situations, Parks walked the fine line of driving, shooting and passing off.
NU Negatives :
  • NU currently leads the league in turnovers, and it showed versus FEU as their 21 errors became 23 points for the Tams. We saw FEU disrupt the NU offense with a 2-1-2 fullcourt press in the third quarter, and it amazes me that head coach Eric Altamirano kept forcing his shooty guards into trying to bring the ball up, instead of putting Parks back in immediately, or going with two point guards by sending in either Cedrick Labing-isa or even Robin Rono. 
  • After a three-game stretch of 14.7 points and 14 rebounds, Emmanuel Mbe had to sit out much of the first half due to foul trouble, only to be promptly forgotten about when he came back in the third, finishing with just 11 points and 10 rebounds, with just seven shot attempts. The Bulldogs should have used him more, especially with the lack of quality big man defenders on FEU. Drawing a couple of fouls on Aldrech Ramos would have been big as well.
  • Veterans Glenn Khobuntin and Joseph Terso had little to contribute despite their senior status. In a total of 22 combined minutes, the duo scored 0 points, though Khobuntin didn't even have single attempt, while Terso was 0/4 from the field, 0/3 from beyond the arc including the potential game-winner. They helped a little in other ways, with Khobuntin snagging five rebounds, and Terso dealing out two assists and a steal, That's still a huge drop from their productive performances from last season. 
  • Tallying just 11 assists all in all shows that NU is just too one on one centric, especially when it comes to Parks who dominates the ball too much at times. They're actually the team that averages the fewest, just 12 a game, and so this shouldn't have been a surprise.

UAAP Picking Record: 31-11

Saturday, August 27, 2011


History Lesson:
Nursing a 60-39 lead at the end of three periods, UST thought they could shift into cruise control in the final quarter against a seemingly defeated UE squad. Big mistake. The Red Warriors came roaring back, cutting the Tigers' lead all the way down to 65-59 with 2:07 left, but two bungled attempts to score by Roi Sumang and Adrian Santos ruined their momentum, allowing the Growling Tigers to hang on to the win, 70-63, as a 24-10 fourth period nearly did them in. Kevin Ferrer led all scorers with 19 points, but none came in the final quarter. On the other side of the court, Paul Zamar and Roi Sumang combined for 32 markers, but it wasn't enough to get the early season upset. (Recap here

What's at Stake:
  • Now at 5-5, the UST Growling Tigers get solo fourth after beating La Salle, thus, obviously the last thing they need now is for La Salle to tie them again, or heaven forbid, overtake them after a monumental collapse. Thus, it's imperative that they don't fall into the upset trap here by taking care of business with UE.
  • UE (2-9) may finish the season content with (potentially) knocking down the domino that sent DLSU into rebuilding mode, but they'd also be okay with making things extra difficult with UST. A loss here could lead to a need to win more games late for the Tigers, possibly forcing them into a tie with other teams for the last Final Four spot. 

UST Stat to Watch : This game will likely be won on the boards again, what with UST emerging as the best rebounding team in the second round (56 a game, 24.33 offensive boards) and UE as the worst (36.67 rebounds). If the Tigers lean on their bigs again like they did versus DLSU, this should be an easy win.
UST Player to Watch : Ateneo beat UE by going down to the post again and again. While Karim Abdul does not have the height, he certainly has some post moves and has shown patience down low in faking off his defenders. His 14 point, 14 rebound, 2.7 assist average in the second round is certainly nothing to sneeze at, now if only he can be more consistent at the line...

UE Stat to Watch : The Red Warriors were hot from the field against the Blue Eagles, breaking the 40 percent barrier for just the second time this season with a 43.28 percent performance. While I doubt they can replicate such things as Erwin Duran's four straight jump shots, or their 7 for 16 three-point shooting, if they can get their players in a position to find open jumpers, they should as opposed to some of the forced shots they threw up in previous losses.
UE Player to Watch : JM Noble produced a great line against the Tigers in the first round: nine points, two rebounds, two assists, two blocks in just 19 minutes. He's had back to back hot scoring performances, and no doubt, he'll want to add to that and make it three in a row.

Prediction: UST Growling Tigers


History Lesson:
Kiefer Ravena heard all of the comments about how he was overrated and decided to stick it to his critics, exploding for 22 points in the first half, to power ahead to as much as a 19 point lead. Sloppy play by the bench unit and highly questionable foul calls allowed La Salle to come back into the game though, threatening at 75-70, but with time not on their side, the Archers were forced to foul floor general Emman Monfort repeatedly, and the veteran calmly made 6 of 6 free throws, sealing the game and the win for Ateneo. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  •  Four games away from a sweep of the elimination round at 10-0, Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach Norman Black would settle for a well-played game, given the lack of energy coming in the near-loss against UE. Though they've already clinched a Final Four spot, the twice to beat advantage of the top two seeds is what they're really after, and to secure that, they'd need at two more wins, assuming the Falcons and Tams don't falter all of a sudden.
  • La Salle still has a prayer of making it into the Final Four, but they'd need collapses from the teams ahead of them to forge a tie for fourth place. With the fans calling for the head of coach Dindo Pumaren, he'd at least be able to save some face by dispatching their arch-rivals. 

ADMU Stat to Watch : In their first encounter, Ateneo kept letting LA Revilla waltz into the lane, while Norbert Torres muscled his way in down low late. Since then, the Eagles have posted the best interior defense, holding opponents to just 38.51 percent on points in the paint, 32.23 percent overall on their field goal shooting. UST was able to win because they held La Salle to a mere 20 points in the paint (albeit on 52.63 percent shooting in shaded lane), shutting down the Archers' inside game. If the Eagles can do the same, they would send the Archers to an unprecedented four-game slide.
ADMU Player to Watch : After scoring 22 in the first half, Ravena became quiet, scoring just three more points, though he had seven rebounds and two steals. La Salle fans boasted of how they were able to shut down the Phenom in the latter part of the game, but we'll see if that holds up, as Ravena has only gotten better since adjusting to his starting shooting guard role.

DLSU Stat to Watch : La Salle kept things close by getting to the line 31 times and making 22 free throws. That's something they haven't been able to do in the second round, getting to the line just 22 times and making 12 charities, a 55 percent clip. Even if the calls start going their way, the Archers will still need to convert them, something they haven't been able to do lately.
DLSU Player to Watch : After a nice two-game stretch from Arnold Van Opstal that turned out to be a mirage, it's been Norbert Torres who's been the big man down low for the Archers, putting together a four-game run of 14 points on 65.63 percent shooting, seven rebounds and three blocks. That however, halted against UST, when foul trouble forced him into a four point, five rebound three block performance. If he can't stay on the court, La Salle will find it difficult to get things going in the paint.

Prediction: ADMU Blue Eagles

One Day Later: UPHSD vs CSB, LPU vs JRU

Hard fought - the Altas won an ugly, but much-needed second win against CSB (pic source)

UPHSD 63 - CSB 57
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Seeing a guy take 17 three pointers, plus five more two pointers, always weirds me out, especially if his final score is not in the forties, so sorry Jett Vidal, I'm going to have to give this award to two players, your big men Justine Alano and Anthony Paulino, who both finished with 10-10 statlines. Alano pulled down a team-high seven offensive rebounds, plus blocked two shots, while Paulino was more efficient as a scorer, but still managed four offensive boards and two assists. Given how big rebounding played into this game, it seems appropriate that we single these two out.

UPHSD Positives :
  • Rebounds made a huge difference in this game, with Perpetual Help snagging 49 to just 36 by CSB, 20 to 8 on the offensive glass. That led to a 16-4 edge in second chance points.
  • Getting George Allen back from achilles sprain was huge, as his energy carried the Altas early, especially when his two triples connected. He finished with eight points, five rebounds and two assists. If he can finally stay healthy, Perpetual Help becomes that much better.
UPHSD Negatives :
  • A game after the Altas tallied a season-low 19 points after twenty minutes, Perpetual Help came dangerously close to matching it with 20 in the first half. They turned it up in the second half, but sooner or later, an opponent's going to come around and put them down, only this time, they won't be able to produce another comeback.
  • The lack of fastbreak points continues to be an issue, as the Altas scored just two in that category in this game, a season-low.

CSB Positives :
  • The running game was in full-force for the Blazers, as they got a season-high 20 fastbreak points, buoyed by the athleticism and speed of Paolo Taha and Jonathan Grey. 
CSB Negatives :
  • Here's a litany of lows the Blazers were able to hit in this game: fewest points scored, worst three-point percentage, worst free throw percentage, first time to get single-digit assists, and lowest second and third quarter outputs.
  • Once again CSB looked dominant for three quarters before encountering a hiccup in the fourth, righting themselves, and then collapsing again, but this time for good. It's something the coaching staff has to deal with if they're to get back in the hunt for the fourth seed.

Talking strategy - the Lyceum Pirates continue to surprise, even in the second round (pic source)

LPU 71 - JRU 65
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Fine, Chris Cayabyab went 1 for 6 from beyond the arc, but to get his 19 points, he was also 7 for 11 from two-point, and he grabbed 11 rebounds for a double-double. It's uncommon for a shooter to mix it up like that down low, so we have to commemorate that feat.

LPU Positives :
  • Defense was the name of the game, as the Pirates held JRU to a measly nine points in the final period, while they scored 21 markers, turning the tables on the hapless Heavy Bombers. 
  • Despite being undersized, Lyceum still managed to own the glass, getting a 53-34 rebounding edge that included a 22-16 advantage in offensive boards.They weren't quite able to capitalize on all those second-chance opportunities though, only getting a +4 in that category, 10 to 6.
  • After a half of zoning the Bombers, the Lyceum braintrust decided to play straight up 1 on 1 defense to minimize the perimeter shooting of JRU, a move that contributed to the poor shooting of the Heavy Bombers late.
LPU Negatives :
  • Only two triples made in this game for the best three-point shooting team in the league entering this game. As a result...they're no longer the best three-point shooting team in the league.
  • Four flagrant fouls on three different players is a ridiculous number, no matter how physical and chippy JRU is. And unluckily, two of them had to land on Floricel Guevarra, the team's second leading scorer. Not only was it lucky that they won, they might  be hard-pressed to win without him in their next game as he serves his mandatory suspension. 

JRU Positives :
  • Well, they at least got 24 turnover points, their second highest amount of the season...
JRU Negatives :
  • What happened to the JRU big men? John Montemayor, John Lopez, and Jeckster Apinan were a combined 22 points and 21 rebounds, measly numbers for this trio. Furthermore, the team only had two blocked shots, and neither were by the three aforementioned players.
  • JRU did themselves in with unforced turnovers, and more importantly, a ton of useless fouls. It's not like they had to foul to put big men they couldn't match up against on the line, but more of silly, excessive nudges and the like, the type that can drive a coach crazy. All in all, Lyceum shot 36 charities and made 23, while JRU was far away in comparison, with 24 trips to the line and 10 makes. 
  • Nate Matute couldn't replicate his hot shooting in the first round against this same team, going 2 for 10 from downtown, 2 of 5 from inside the arc, and 1 for 4 from the line. Similarly, team captain Raycon Kabigting, on both the receiving and dealing end of flagrant fouls, scored only on two charities, missing all three field goals. 

NCAA Picking Record: 37-14

Friday, August 26, 2011


History Lesson:
A poor shooting first quarter by both sides saw the score at 8-6 Adamson, after ten minutes, but the Falcons more than made up for it in the second period, knocking down 5 of 8 triples, and getting five charities after fouls on three point attempts. It was all downhill from there for the Maroons, with their fastbreak and perimeter game stymied, as the Falcons won 72-46. Alex Nuyles led with 21 points, while Lester Alvarez had 16, as the two combined to rain down seven triples on the Maroons. On the flipside, Mike Silungan topped the UP scoring charts with 12, but missed all seven of his outside attempts. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • The 7-3 Adamson Falcons will want to get back on track after their tight loss to FEU last Saturday. Had they won that game, the Falcons would have had the inside track on the second of two twice to beat advantages, but with FEU climbing up to 6-4, the Falcons will have to earn it the hard way by stringing together some more wins and staying ahead of the Tams.
  • At 2-8, there's no chance the Maroons will return to the Final Four anymore, but they can head into next season with some momentum and play spoiler at the same time by dealing with the Falcons. 

ADU Stat to Watch : The FEU Tamaraws showed how vulnerable the Adamson Falcons are if their shots aren't going in. As an exclusively jump shooting team with little post-up presence, an off-night for the Falcons had them going 17.65 percent from downtown, their worst of the season, and 31.75 percent overall from the field, their second worst since their season opener versus Ateneo. That means Adamson will have to work to get better looks and to mix things up with more slashes to the basket as they can't settle all the time for low-percentage shots.
ADU Player to Watch : While not exactly the key piece in the Adamson line-up, this team gets on a roll when Lester Alvarez finds his stride. Versus FEU, Alvarez was just 3 for 9 from the field, with all but one attempt, a miss, coming from inside the arc. He also finished with just a single assist. If he can bounce back in a big way, the Falcons ought to find this game a breeze.

UP Stat to Watch : UP's offense has dropped precipitously in the second round, to the point where they're now last in the league in scoring (59.6 points), field goals made (23.2 per game), field goal percentage (34.47 percent) and all things free throws (8.8/14.8 on average, for 59.46 percent). The Maroons are even more reliant on jump shots than the Falcons, sort of explaining why they haven't been putting up any points.
UP Player to Watch : Former Blue Eaglet Paolo Romero has emerged as a steady contributor for UP, averaging 11.67 points and 5.3 rebounds in the second round. His jump shot may draw his defender, a Jan Colina or an Eric Camson, away from the basket, improving the spacing for a slasher like Jelo Montecastro

Prediction: Adamson Soaring Falcons


History Lesson:
The Bulldogs played the Tamaraws well early on, posting a 57-53 lead early in the fourth quarter, but defensive adjustments by FEU head coach Bert Flores had them shifting to a 2-3 zone, suffocating the NU defense, with Christian Sentcheu anchoring the middle with his height and wingspan. Because of that, the NU offense ground to a halt, scoring just five points in the final period, allowing consecutive jump shots by FEU to seal the deal, 62-59. RR Garcia's 17 points, four rebounds and three assists paced the Tams, while Bobby Ray Parks scored 11 points, to go with five rebounds, three assists and three steals, though he was a non-factor in the final period. (Recap here

What's at Stake:
  • Upsetting Adamson improved FEU's chances of securing the third seed as they go to 6-4, while still maintaining an outside shot at #2. To keep both those futures alive though, they'll need to keep winning, especially against the lower-tier squads. A loss here in fact, could actually eliminate NU from the Final Four race.
  • Beating UP keeps the dream alive, putting NU at 4-6, but one more loss ends NU's Final Four hopes, which were already shaky, given that they need collapses from UST and DLSU to sneak in. A win here keeps them going another day, and after that they'll spend Sunday glued to their TVs, hoping the Tigers and Archers both fall.

FEU Stat to Watch : The loss of Christian Sentcheu to a stress fracture in the second round has been telling, as FEU has gone from norming 18.43 offensive rebounds, to just 12.33, the fewest in the second round. With Emmanuel Mbe on a five game double-digit rebounding streak, the Tams will need to devote extra attention to Mbe and make sure he's boxed out properly.
FEU Player to Watch : Terrence Romeo picked up his game in their last meeting versus Adamson, with a line that reads, 14 points on 50 percent shooting, seven rebounds, and five assists. But he still committed five turnovers, including a crucial one late that could have led to an Alex Nuyles layup that cut the lead down to one, but just as easily could have led to a game-knotting triple. That said, Romeo hit a big triple in their first round encounter, so that might carry over to this game.

NU Stat to Watch : NU's second round numbers have been inflated, by virtue of their two blowout wins against UE and UP. The figures have them norming 45.52 percent on two-pointers and 42.22 percent from the field, while holding opponents to just 54 points.  In their loss to Adamson though, NU was 41.51 percent inside the arc, and just 36.07 percent overall, as they were the ones who found themselves held to just 53 points, while the Falcons romped away for 68. It'll be interesting to see how the Bulldogs perform if this doesn't figure to be a blowout.
NU Player to Watch : Glenn Khobuntin has gone from starter and someone you need to factor into how to stop NU, to seldom used bench guy and non-factor on offense. He's averaging just 2.3 points and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes since the second round began, but it was not too long ago that he dropped 21 versus La Salle, fueling an NU comeback. He could provide a mismatch when FEU goes with a three-guard line-up with Parks on the bench, but he's someone who ought to get more minutes, especially in the light of how reliant the Bulldogs are on Parks and Mbe for scoring.

Prediction: NU Bulldogs

One Day Later: ADMU vs UE, DLSU vs UST

The man in the middle - Ateneo leaned on Greg Slaughter, and the big guy delivered (pic source)

ADMU 74 - UE 70
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : After games of Slaughter being a complimentary piece to the squad and not the main focus, ADMU coach Norman Black decided that he needed to go to the well and pound the ball into the big man, exploiting his height advantage over the tiny UE Red Warriors squad. The tactic worked, as Slaughter produced possibly his best game of the season so far, finishing with 19 points on 8/9 shooting, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and just two turnovers.

ADMU Positives :
  • It was all about the fundamentals again for Ateneo, as the Eagles went back to the basics of basketball to win this game, getting ahead in the following categories: rebounds (43-34), assists (22-16) and free throws (25-9). 
  • The guards of Ateneo had no problem breaking the 2-2-1 press employed by the Red Warriors, and easily forced turnovers on the UE backcourt. Emman Monfort, Kiefer Ravena and Kirk Long combined for 32 points, 14 assists and seven steals in yesterday's game. 
  • Ateneo's bench was actually pretty productive as it has been for the past couple of games. Tonino Gonzaga and Justin Chua were the headliners, combining for 13 points, but Bacon Austria and Frank Golla provided some hustle to go with a handful of points.
ADMU Negatives :
  • After back to back amazing performances to start the second round, Nico Salva seemed to have used up his mojo, going 1 for 12 from the field, missing a lot of shots he normally makes.
  • The Eagles simply could not create enough separation against UE, failing to erect a double-digit lead for just the second time this season (first versus Adamson in the season opener)
  • Ateneo posted their worst performance at the line today, shooting 16 of 25 from the field for 64 percent. Their previous low was 64.52 percent, in their second round match with FEU, both far from their average of 74.07 percent.

UE Positives :
  • The Red Warriors seemingly could not miss from the floor, hitting 10 of 20 perimeter field goals in the first half before settling back to the norm, though they did wind up with a 7 for 16 clip from downtown. How on fire was UE? They entered the game shooting 14.76 percent from long-range and 35.46 percent from the field, but shot 40-plus percent in this game.
  • John Noble posted even better numbers versus Ateneo than he did versus La Salle, dropping 21 points on 9 of 19 shooting, including a 3 for 6 stretch from beyond the arc. Paul Zamar was also en fuego, scoring 15 points, including three triples as well, plus dishing out six assists and getting two swipes. 
UE Negatives :
  • Lord Casajeros, you mother flopper.

In your face - tight UST defense contributed to DLSU's downfall (pic source)

UST 60 - DLSU 52

Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : While the focus will be on Jeric Teng, and rightfully so, it was Karim Abdul who set the tone for this game, dominating the interior and acting like a demon on the glass. In 30 minutes, Abdul hauled down 12 rebounds, half of them on the offensive end, while also making three assists and no turnovers. Plus he also scored nine points on 4 of 7 shooting, with the only quibble being his 1 for 6 performance from the stripe.

DLSU Positives :
  • They didn't have a 2-point second quarter.
DLSU Negatives :
  •  Despite it being a must-win game, the Archers still came out flat from the opening whistle, looking like it was a summer preseason game. Only Joseph Marata finished with double-digit scoring, and barely, chipping in 11.
  • It sure looked like DLSU was in for another two-point quarter, drawing things out to the 1:49 mark of the period before scoring their second field goal. As usual, too much jump shooting characterized DLSU's woes, making just 1 of 12 perimeter shots, and three shots in the paint, before connecting on the inbounds play by Tampus and the dunk by Van Opstal.
  • After starting the season hitting 67.95 percent from the line, the Archers have gone back to the horrid form they displayed in the summer. In this game, they were a miserable 12 for 26 from the stripe, failing to connect late on big free throws. 
  • The Tigers held La Salle to just 20 points in the paint, a season-low for DLSU, after averaging 37.33 points, entering this game.
  • Everyone knows this by now, but damn is head coach Dindo Pumaren slow at making adjustments. UST ran the same press break play four times in a row: inbounds to Fortuna, pass to Teng right below the halfcourt line, double comes to Teng, Teng reverses the ball back to Fortuna, who makes a forward pass to the right wing player who drives in for a layup, with a big man on the weak side to allow for a drop pass if the lone Archer commits to him. Later on, coach Jarencio ran the same play twice, have Fortuna drive down the middle, attract the defense, and then throw it over his head to Teng at the top of the three point line. Result? Triples.

UST Positives :
  • UST did all the right things today, making a mockery of the La Salle press (which they added some 2-2-1 variations to, after being creamed by it versus UE, ironically, it didn't help), unleashing the 2-3 zone early, and basically dictating the tempo, preventing DLSU from getting up and run. UST previously allowed the most fastbreak points per game, 15.2, but La Salle only had seven in this match, a testament to improved defense on the Tigers' part.
  • The Tigers backcourt came up big in the clutch, with Teng hitting two huge triples and Fortuna coming up with the coast to coast layup. 
  • The Growling Tigers bigs came up with 63 rebounds, 32 on the offensive end, cementing their rep as the best rebounding team in the league. DLSU in comparison had just 41 rebounds total, 16 on the offensive end.
UST Negatives :
  • Fortuna turned in his second straight poor shooting performance, going 2 for 18 from the field, though he did make the two assists to Teng for the triples that sealed the game.
  • Kevin Ferrer continues to struggle, scoring just six points on 1 of 9 shooting, going 4 of 7 from the arc, and committing three turnovers.  What happened to him?

UAAP Picking Record: 30-10

Thursday, August 25, 2011


History Lesson:
Count this as another close-fought game by the Altas that got away at the end. A triple by forward Anthony Paulino allowed Perpetual Help to stick close, 75-73, but an 8-0 blast by the Blazers, coupled with converted free throws when the Altas switched to fouling mode helped CSB play keep away, resulting in an 88-83 win. Paolo Taha led CSB with 18 points on an efficient outing, 7 of 9 field goal shooting, 4 of 5 freethrows. Four other Blazers scored in double figures, overpowering the four of Perpetual Help, led by Scottie Thompson's 23 markers. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • The Perpetual Help Altas (1-9) stuck close with the San Beda Red Lions, faltering only in the latter part of the fourth quarter. While not nearly as a big a name, a surprise win over the Blazers will throw a monkey wrench into their postseason plans.
  • After falling to Mapua in overtime, the St. Benilde Blazers (4-6) find themselves a loss back of Lyceum, and tied with the Cardinals. No doubt, CSB will look to keep in step with the Pirates, but they can force another tie if the Blazers win and JRU handles the Pirates again.

UPHSD Stat to Watch : The Altas hung around with the Red Lions on account of their hot three-point shooting, nailing 9 out of 29 triples, their most since...well, since they hit 10 of 24 against this CSB team in the first round. If they're going to be given the outside look again, then the Blazers are going to find themselves likely buried under a barrage of triples.
UPHSD Player to Watch : Jaycee Asuncion's 15 points in 15 minutes, 12 coming from downtown, was a season-high for him, and a big boost for someone who entered the game converting on just 5 of 29 triples. Whether he can pick it up again in this match is a whole other thing though.

CSB Stat to Watch : The Blazers are having a hard time stopping teams, allowing 80.5 points a game, while giving up an average of 71.4 field goal attempts to the opponent. As offensively inept as the Altas are (34.54 percent field goal shooting, a league low), if you give any opponent enough shots, they're bound to make some, so Benilde ought to tighten up defensively, even if it's just Perpetual Help.
CSB Player to Watch : Odds are good that Carlo Lastimosa won't be available for this game, due to his sprained ankle, so that means the guy to watch again will be Jonathan Grey, as he and Paolo Taha will absorb the majority of Lastimosa's minutes. Grey sizzled against Mapua, second only to Lastimosa himself, with 21 points on 6 of 10 shooting and eight rebounds, though his performance did dip a bit late, due to fatigue. Still, he was instrumental in forging the final score of 94-90, attacking the lane and getting his own misses at the free throw line. 

Prediction: CSB Blazers


History Lesson:
In a back and forth encounter by these two squads, things boiled down to a shooting duel between Nate Matute and Floricel Guevarra late, as seven straight by the reserve Lyceum marksman got the Pirates to within a point, 61-60, with six minutes to play. Matute answered back with two triples to give JRU a two-possession advantage, but four from the stripe by Guevarra and Chris Cayabyab cut the lead down to a deuce, 68-66, but that was a close as they would go, as JRU took over from that point on. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • The Lyceum Pirates (4-5) are now in sole control of the fourth spot in the standings, thanks to a loss by the CSB Blazers. Winning this game not only gets them revenge, it also puts them at .500, causing separation between them and all the other aspirants from 5th place to 8th.
  • The JRU Heavy Bombers (3-6) are one of those aspirants, looking to move up into the fourth seed. Beating Lyceum would put them at a tie at 4-6 along with the idle Mapua Cardinals, with CSB either above or below them depending on the results of their game against Perpetual Help.

Lyceum Stat to Watch : Owing to some hot sniping from Cayabyab and Guevarra, the Lyceum Pirates are second in terms of three-point percentage, making 30.05 percent, or 6.11 of 20.33. When they spread the floor like that, things open up inside for undersized center Allan Santos and Onofre Napiza's baseline jumpers. If their shots aren't falling, the squad usually struggles, as it tries to get stuff going in the halfcourt.
Lyceum Player to Watch : Allan Santos has gone from being a double-double machine to just an ordinary back-up center, as teams have adjusted and made him try to get an awkward looking jump shot going. Santos was a horrible 1 for 10 from the field versus JRU, so he's got to drive hard to the rim and hopefully get John Lopez or Jeckster Apinan to sit down. 

JRU Stat to Watch : With both teams being a bit too careless with the ball (Lyceum leads the league in turnovers with 22.67 a game, JRU is third with 21.11), the two sides gave up turnover points and scored them as well in a sloppily played game. Lyceum wound up getting 14 turnover points off 20 JRU turnovers, while the Heavy Bombers scored 18 from the 22 Lyceum miscues. If the Heavy Bombers keep those two numbers in their favor, they should be able to pull out a win.
JRU Player to Watch : Nate Mattute scorched the rims when these two teams first met, scoring 23 points on a 5 of 11 three-pointer clip. Matute found himself falling back to Earth though in their next game against Letran, making just a single shot, one of his nine triple tries. Which Matute will show up for this game? JRU is obviously hoping it's the former.

Prediction: JRU Heavy Bombers

One Day Later: CSJL vs AU, MIT vs CSB

Team play - Kevin Alas and the rest of the Letran Knights easily dispatched the Arellano Chiefs (pic source)

CSJL 75 - AU 59
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : A last-minute addition to the line-up due to a lingering fever, Kevin Alas still managed to impress, dropping 17 points on eight attempts, plus chipping in seven rebounds, four assists and a steal. The efficient shooting performance was what impressed me the most, but he only had two turnovers as well, handling the ball exceptionally well in 36 minutes.

CSJL Positives :
  • Jam Cortes dominated the interior as usual, getting 16 points on 7 of 8 shooting, and hauling down nine rebounds. He did commit six turnovers, as the swarming Chiefs defense targeted him from the onset. 
  • Letran dominated the rebounding 49-39, 21-15 on the offensive glass, resulting in an 18 to 4 edge in second chance points, as Arellano's zone did them in once again. That said, this was actually a bit of a letdown, with Raymond Almazan getting less than double-digit rebounds.
CSJL Negatives :
  • The Knights entered the game norming 18 turnover points, but Arellano was able to hold them to just 14, despite committing 25 errors.

AU Positives :
  •  Arellano's zone defense was able to sucker the Knights into taking 19 triple attempts, of which they made just 2 conversions.
AU Negatives :
  • The Chiefs were shutdown inside, getting 15 offensive rebounds, but only managing four second chance points.
  • Arellano was ridiculously careless with the ball, as Gerald Lapuz, Andrian Celada and Vergel Zulueta all tallied four turnovers. Point guard Rocky Acidre had it worse with five. 
  • After getting to within five points, 38-33, early in the third quarter, the Chiefs simply rolled over and died, allowing Letran to double their output from that point on.
Gone for long? Coupled with the overtime loss, an injured Carlo Lastimosa puts the Blazers' future in doubt (pic source)

MIT 94 - CSB 90
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Allan Mangahas took control of the overtime period, scoring seven and making a key assist to Mark Sarangay to put the game away for good as the Cardinals survived late rallies by the Blazers. Mangahas finished 10 of 24 from the field, and added eight rebounds and six assists to the cause.

MIT Positives :
  • After flopping in the fourth quarter numerous times in the first round, the Cardinals stayed steady in this one, catching up to the Blazers through volume shooting by Josan Nimes (14 of his 25 points in the fourth period) and two huge triples by Jason Pascual. Mangahas then followed it up as previously mentioned in the overtime.
  • Mapua rode hot shooting all the way to the end, finishing with a 39 of 80 clip, just one made field goal shy of 50 percent shooting.
  • Though the Cardinals relied more on their athleticism instead of their height, through whatever manner, they were able to secure the rebounding edge, getting 53 to Benilde's 43.
MIT Negatives :
  • Playing against the tiny Blazers, Mapua went ahead and decided to play the opponent's style of ball, going small with four guards and Mark Sarangay late. While they were able to win, I think it's a waste of the talent on their roster, especially in the case of Yousef Taha who is 6'7" and yet, rarely got a chance to post up properly to take advantage of the smaller CSB defenders. 
  • For all the fortitude the Cardinals displayed, they still allowed the Blazers to hang around late. Anton Altamirano's steal and pass to Carlo Lastimosa shouldn't have been possible had they taken better control of the ball, and Jonathan Grey's repeated trips to the line in overtime could have been negated had they learned how to just box out their man (or you know, not gone with four guards and a big). 
  • Entering the game shooting 63.92 percent from the free throw line, Mapua had it worse in this game, making just 9 of 21 charities for 43 percent. A few more made freebies would have gone a long way to preventing OT.

CSB Positives :
  • The Blazers managed to keep pace in a high-scoring game, getting 23 points from Carlo Lastimosa, 21 from Jonathan Grey and 19 from Paolo Taha. In particular, the Cardinals had a difficult time stopping Grey and Taha from getting to the rim, owning to their freakish athleticism.
CSB Negatives :
  • After dropping five triples in the first quarter, the guns of CSB fell silent, making just four more triples thereafter. 
  • Had Tim McCoy gotten both charities after Rodel Ranises made that foul going for a steal, the game would not have been sent into overtime.
  • The ankle injury of Carlo Lastimosa looks extremely serious. If he has to miss a significant amount of games, the Blazers maybe sunk, given how bunched up everyone is in the standings.

NCAA Picking Record: 37-12

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


History Lesson:
Nursing a 49-27 lead at the break, it would take a complete collapse for the UST Growling Tigers to get back at the DLSU Green Archers. They got close, holding DLSU to just seven third quarter points, and threatening with just a point difference, 72-71 with seconds to go, but Jarelan Tampus saved the day after nearly ruining it for the green shirts, missing two charities, but securing the rebound and then making up for his gaffe by knocking these two down. With Kevin Ferrer missing an off-balance trey to force OT, La Salle was able to escape with the win, 74-71. (Recap here)

What's at Stake: 
  • Both teams possess 4-5 records and are tied for the fourth seed, behind the third-place 6-4 FEU Tamaraws. With five games remaining on tap for both these squads, a win here would be huge, placing large amounts of pressure on the loser to sweep their remaining games if they hope to make the post-season.

DLSU Stat to Watch : On a two-game losing streak since the second round began, La Salle's offense has lost a lot of pep that made them a dangerous team. Not only do they average five less points scored now (72.71 to 67.5), all their freethrow related stats have dropped too, includes makes and percentage. Rebounding, assists, steals have also declined, while turnovers have shot up. Given the close nature of their first encounter with UST, if their offensive ineptitude continues, then this game may not even go down to the wire.
DLSU Player to Watch : Norbert Torres came out and dueled Karim Abdul to a standstill, getting 21 points and eight rebounds, but contributing five blocks as well. With Yutien Andrada out for the season and Arnold Van Opstal becoming a foul magnet, Torres will likely carry the load down low, and will need to come up big on both sides of the court.

UST Stat to Watch : The Growling Tigers have ruled the interior to a certain extent in the round two, ruling the rebounds like in the first round (20.5 offensive rebounds a game, 52.5 rebounds total, both tops in the league), but also getting the most swipes, with six in each encounter. With Andrada missing, that's one less capable big man rebounder the Archers will have against Karim Abdul.
UST Player to Watch : Jeric Teng was coming off the bench in their first round game after an injury sidelined him in their previous encounter, playing just 24 minutes and finishing with 14 points. Teng can be both a boon and a bane for UST as shown in that meeting. Teng was a disappointing 2 of 10 from the field, 1 for 4 from downtown, but he made up for it with a 9 for 10 stint at the foul line. If he gets into attack mode and sends Van Opstal and Torres into foul trouble, things open up drastically for UST.

Prediction: UST Growling Tigers


History Lesson:
On the heels of a blowout win against the NU Bulldogs, the ADMU Blue Eagles came out flat, conceding a two-point lead to the UE Red Warriors after the first quarter, and then taking just a three-point edge at the break, after a horrendous shooting performance from both teams that saw them combine to go 8 for 33 from the field. The Eagles snapped out of it in the third period though, after figuring out UE's halfcourt scheme, outscoring UE 23-14 and holding on to the lead until the final whistle, 73-61.  And oh yes, some Kiefer guy dunked in transition. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • Five games stand between the 9-0 Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles and an elimination round sweep. Even if it's not something the coaching staff isn't actively gunning for, they definitely do not want a let-down loss to UE, similar to what DLSU went through when they got ambushed last weekend.
  • At 2-7, the University of the East Red Warriors are brimming with confidence after escaping the cellar and upsetting the Green Archers. Even with the playoffs out of the question, they'll definitely be looking to add another big name to their hit list. 

ADMU Stat to Watch : When the dust settled, Ateneo got 42 of their points in the paint, 22 from the line, and just nine from the perimeter. That's really how the Blue Eagles play though, but UE head coach Jerry Codinera might opt to force the Eagles to make shots from outside with a zone defense. Should he go that route though, expect his counterpart on the Ateneo side Norman Black to counter with ball movement, or scores in transition.
ADMU Player to Watch : After the first half, Greg Slaughter finished with seven points on 2 of 7 shooting from the field. Told to stop hoisting jump shots and to go down into the post, Slaughter responded with 11 in the second half, going 5 for 8 in latter half of the game. If he can show that sort of aggressiveness early and get RR De Leon and Chris Javier into foul trouble, the game will be as good as won for the Eagles.

UE Stat to Watch : UE wins when they put points on the board, simple as that. In their victories against NU and DLSU, they cracked the 70 point barrier, scoring 44 and 38 respectively in the paint. That won't be easy against Ateneo though, which holds opponents to under 60 points and just 23 points in the paint.
UE Player to Watch : Chris Javier actually posted his season-high in scoring against Ateneo, getting nine points, pulling down five rebounds, and dishing out three assists. He and RR De Leon will split time guarding Slaughter, but on the other side of the court, his ability to step out and hit the mid-range jumper will help UE spread the floor and draw Slaughter away from the rim.

Prediction: ADMU Blue Eagles