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.
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.
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