The UE Red Warriors pulled off the upset win against the NU Bulldogs last August 6, likely preventing them from making the Final Four, with a 72-71 win. Rookie point Roi Sumang and forward Adrian Santos teamed up to make two critical plays: a drive and dish by Sumang to an open Santos for the go-ahead score, and then the tip on a jump ball by Santos to Sumang to seal the win. To get there though, Paul Zamar and Biboy Enguio provided the firepower, scoring 20 and 19 respectively. NU had an early points explosion courtesy of Bobby Ray Parks, but the forward once again came up short in crunch time, blanking on two charities that could have given them a one-point lead. He finished with 23 points and six rebounds. (Recap here)
What's at Stake:
- The Bulldogs (2-5) still have an outside shot at making the Final Four, but it starts with a need to sweep the second round. They're certainly going to be out for revenge, but the larger point is, any loss at this point on shuts the door on the post-season, a door that's already nearly closed as it is.
- The Red Warriors (1-6) prevented a 0-14 season thanks to the win. Already, there's a sense of accomplishment already for that, but who says they can't take it further with another 'W'? Cast into the role of spoiler, UE's season gets a lot better, knowing that they've prevented another team from making the post-season, ironically, a role NU used to relish a few seasons ago.
NU Stat to Watch : The Bulldogs' interior defense couldn't stop a fly in the first round, giving up 39.14 points in the paint. They also allowed opponents to shoot 46.11 percent from two-point range, and 41.27 percent overall on field goals, thus, it's no wonder that UE scored a season-high 72 points when they first played. NU has to play better defense if they want to have a chance at the Final Four, much better defense.
NU Player to Watch : One would think that Emmanuel Mbe would have been able to dominate the interior, given the lack of height on the UE frontcourt. Mbe actually scored dropped eight points on them in the first quarter, but as has been the case, the team forgot to go to him again after that, as he scored just five in the next three quarters. His numbers have taken a huge hit from 13.4 points and 11.7 rebounds to just 10.1 points and 7 boards. Clearly, NU needs to do something to get this guy going again.
UE Stat to Watch : Norming 19.14 turnovers, the Red Warriors made just 11 miscues against the Bulldogs, thus giving them more possessions to keep in step with NU. If they can stay relatively error-free again, especially Roi Sumang, they have a chance of repeating what they accomplished in Round One.
UE Player to Watch : Biboy Enguo came out of nowhere to score 19 points, taking over where Paul Zamar left off, in the fourth quarter. Prior to that game versus NU, the former Lyceum Pirate had scored just 13 points total in seven games, thus, it's no wonder the Bulldogs coaching staff had no clue that he would explode like that. The question is whether a repeat performance is possible or not. UE fans are hoping it's the former.
PREDICTION: NU Bulldogs