Wednesday, August 3, 2011


History Lesson:
Last year gave FEU their 11th and 12th straight wins over the UP Fighting Maroons, a streak that goes back six years to the Arwind Santos era of the Tamaraws. The first round meeting was a high-scoring affair, that saw Reil Cervantes and Terrence Romeo rip through the UP lines, for 18 and 21 points respectively, keying a 94-70 victory. The tenor of the game was the exact opposite in the second round game though, with UP coming up with an 8 to 7 first quarter lead. That didn't last long though, as FEU came out with a 21-10 second period performance, leading to a final score of 70-48, as Magi Sison and Alvin Padilla alone couldn't provide enough offense for the Maroons.

UP Storyline : With all the euphoria gone from their season-opening win, the Maroons have settled into the possibility that they are better than last season, but not a whole lot better. As such, there's slim pickings for win #2 and the chance that it's a team other than UE gets slimmer and slimmer each week. On paper, they're a lot similar to FEU though, in that they have one big guy and a smattering of guards who can score. The similarities end on the conceptualize stage though, as FEU's center is a member of the National Team, and their smattering of guards include a former member of the RP Youth Team, a Rookie of the Year, and an MVP.
Stat to Watch : UP wants nothing to do with the perimeter. By that I mean of all the teams in the UAAP, they shoot the worst from there, making just 24% of their perimeter shots, or 8.75 out of 36.5 attempts. Then on the defensive end, they're also the worst at defending the perimeter, giving up 33% of 33.25 attempts by their opponents, good for 11 makes from outside the paint. One of those two ought to be corrected if they hope to end their skid versus FEU
Player to Watch : Alinko Mbah has basically been the anchor of UP's defense, pulling down 9 rebounds a game and turning back 2.5 shots. Not only will he have to be ready to be drawn to the perimeter by Aldrech Ramos, he'll also have to handle all the drives from the likes of RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo and Cris Tolomia, a big task for the rookie center.

FEU Storyline : The Tams have been good enough to get by, needing clutch performances in the fourth quarter from their entire team to get by against NU and UST. While it's a testament to their resolve that they find themselves in second place at 4-1, it also speaks to how tenuous their position is, seeing as how they could easily be at 2-3 this very moment. Coach Bert Flores has done a masterful job pushing all the right buttons, but no doubt, the staff has to be wondering how their games have been so tight despite having a top-3 defense in the league.
Stat to Watch : FEU's defense consists of holding opponents to the third lowest points per game (61.6, Adamson and Ateneo are first and second respectively in those categories), while defending the three-pointers (21% allowed, tops in the league). With UP already anemic from the perimeter, this might turn into a squash if the Maroons can't get anything from outside.
Player to Watch : After a couple of poor starts at the beginning of the season, Chris Exciminiano has rallied to become a tenacious player on both ends of the court, averaging 8.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2.7 steals, and a block in 25.3 minutes of action, all while guarding the best perimeter player of the other side. In this game, he'll have his pick of targets, from Mike Silungan, Jett Manuel, Jelo Montecastro, and Mike Gamboa, so I expect him to get some heavy minutes.

Prediction: FEU Tamaraws

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