Tuesday, August 2, 2011

UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 3 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 (again), an easy pick for #18, and a whole lot of movement on multiple fronts!

Defeated EAC 103-62, CSJL 77-63

Last Week: #3 -After a nice tune-up game against the EAC Generals, the San Beda Red Lions had an easy time handling the Letran Knights, despite some rallies that cut a 19 point lead down to 8 in the third quarter, and then later down to 12 in the fourth. It's not news to say that San Beda's greatest strength is their depth, but never was it more clear against Letran, where they managed to foul out Jonathan Belorio and Jam Cortes of Letran, while still having four big guys to fill up the front court. They'll be playing a Mapua team this week that sort of has the same kind of depth, but not the same drive and poise, which is my polite way of saying San Beda is likely going to crush them as well.

Upcoming Games: MIT on August 5
Defeated UP 77-57
Last Week: #2 - Everyone is complaining that this team is stuck on auto-pilot, coasting along in their games, waiting for the Final Four to begin. That's bit ludicrous when you consider that they're winning games by an average of 13.8 points, while holding opponents to just 32% field goal shooting (tops in the league) and doing all that with a bench that's averaging only 14.6 markers a game. Coach Norman Black promised he'll be making some adjustments to the second unit, which we might see against UST, and if that move works out, then what? Do we just hustle everyone else out to the stepladder format?

Upcoming Games: UST on August 4, FEU on August 7
No games
Last Week: #1 -The Stags got to sit out a week and then basically face two easy opponents. It's hard to see EAC and AU giving the Stags a difficult time, which is good, because that lets head coach Topex Robinson give more minutes to his supporting cast, guys like Lyle Antipuesto, Dexter Maiquez and Michael Miranda, who will need to step up when it comes down to facing the San Beda Red Lions. As brilliant as the Pampanga Trio have been, I can't see them playing the entire game versus the red shirts, and so the bench will need to make an impact if they're hoping to get revenge for last season's Finals. 

Upcoming Games: EAC on August 3, AU on August 8

Defeated UST 62-59

Last Week: #5 -FEU outplayed UST down the stretch, despite off-nights from Aldrech Ramos and RR Garcia, a great sign for the Tams. Given the season-long funk Terrence Romeo has fallen into (5.8 points, 23.81% field goal shooting for the season), it's a blessing that Cris Tolomia has stepped up (8.7 points on 35.48% shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.3 steals) to fill in that void. They're still missing toughness inside though. After splendid season-opener performances from Mark Bringas and Carl Bryan Cruz, those two have barely chipped in anything since.

Upcoming Games: UP on August 4, ADMU on August 7
Defeated CSB 112-91, lost to SBC 62-77
Last Week: #6 - If Letran is a machine, then it has no spare parts, as the Knights have only been winners when everything clicks for them. That means Jam Cortes and Jonathan Belorio have to stay out of foul trouble, obviously, but it also means wing scorers VJ Espiritu and Kevin Racal have to make shots as well. With all four of those players suffering from off-nights versus the Red Lions, it was the equivalent of the wheels falling off a car, leaving Kevin Alas to throw up brick after brick in vain, trying to initiate a comeback for his team.

Upcoming Games: LPU on August 5

Defeated NU 74-63, UE 87-63
Last Week: #10 - It took a (long) while before DLSU head coach Dindo Pumaren finally caved in to public pressure (specifically, La Salle pressure) and cut his rotation down from a gazillion players to just 12, but the results were definitely noticeable, as the Archers played much better against NU and UE. While LA Revilla deserves a lot of the credit for the success of the Archers this season, one must also mention the superb two-way play of Jarelan Tampus (12.5 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal in the past 2 games), who goes from defense to offense in a snap of the finger (and a timely steal). He's everything Archer fans have wanted from Joshua Webb these past couple of seasons.

Upcoming Games: ADU on August 6
Defeated UE 85-54, lost to NU 56-63

Last Week: #4 - So while maybe predicting a bird versus bird finals now seems premature in hindsight, it shouldn't have stunned anyone that the Falcons would lose courtesy of a zone, because as I have written before, if you stop the transition game, Adamson devolves into a purely jump shooting team. And if you can make it hard for them to hit jump shots, then you've basically won. Yes they were also unlucky in that Alex Nuyles was missing free throws late, but their bigger concern ought to be the fact that Emmanuel Mbe was able to have a renaissance game against their interior defense. If Arnold Van Opstal pulls off the same trick against them on Saturday, look out.

Upcoming Games: DLSU on August 6

No games

Last Week: #7 -The NCAA, the only league where a team gets to sit around for two weeks idle! Making it easy for me to do the write-ups for some of these teams! Oldest league in the Philippines everyone! The Pirates have hit some rough water (hardeehar) in their past games but they still boast an unusually robust record given their guest team status. One thing to look out for in the upcoming week is how well they reintegrate Shane Ko to their offense after his long layoff due to a wrist injury. In his absence, Dexter Zamora and Tirso Lesmoras turned in some pretty nice moments, but they were far from consistent. If Ko can give them some regularly performances and help with their inside-out game, Lyceum could find itself on an uptick once again.

Upcoming Games: CSJL on August 5
Lost to FEU 59-62

Last Week: #8 - It's become increasingly difficult to judge whether or not the UST Growling Tigers are good are not. They started out 2-0, but against mediocre opposition. After a thumping from the Falcons, they then went out and played hard-nose defense for 39 minutes against FEU, losing only because...their head coach forgot to save a timeout. If the Tigers are going to contend for a Final Four spot, their area of improvement is pretty clear: if you look at their points allowed per quarter, it comes out as 13.5 in the first quarter, 13.5 in the second quarter, 16.75 in the third, and 21.5 in the fourth quarter, a league-high.

Upcoming Games: UP on August 4, ADMU on August 7
Lost to MIT 63-80, SBC 62-103
Last Week: #9 -The bubble seems to have burst for the Generals, as they've lost two straight, but they were always going to struggle last week between playing without Cubo versus the Cardinals, and by the mere fact that they were up against a fired-up San Beda looking to bounce back from a near-loss to Benilde. This week's slate of games looks to be a more fair test. Can their guys contain the big three of San Sebastian? And can they not fall victim to an upset loss against Perpetual Help? All they really need to do is cut down on their turnovers, seeing as how they currently lead the league with 23.8 a game.

Upcoming Games: SSCR on August 3, UPHSD on August 8
No games
Last Week: #12 - The journey to .500 begins here, with games against Benilde and the stylistically similar Letran Knights. I don't know how many times I can write that the Bombers really miss Nate Matute, but it's true, seeing as how they only manage a pitiful 2.4 triples a game, while shooting 17.65% from long-range. It's a wonder that more teams haven't tried to just zone them from start to finish, and make Alex Almario and Raycon Kabigting hoist up shots from outside. Failing that, fouling them seems to be smart as well, since they only shoot 54.2% from the stripe. In other words, just don't let John Lopez, Jeckster Apinan and Ronnel Carampil get up close!

Upcoming Games: CSB on August 3 
Lost to DLSU 63-74, defeated ADU 63-56
Last Week: #15 - So...can we say that in the NU system, it's perfectly acceptable for Bobby Ray Parks to have a forgettable game as long as Emmanuel Mbe performs well? That seems to be the moral of their Adamson win, as Parks continues to struggle, putting up just 10 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1.5 steals, a block, and three turnovers in an average of 23.5 minutes over their last two games. However, you can't overlook how big Denice Villamor and Gelo Alolino came up in that game too, so the actual lesson might be: play as a team. Simple, right? They'll likely beat UE on August 6, leaving them with a 3-4 record going into round two, where a 6-1 or 5-2 record will be imperative for a Final Four berth. It's still possible, but we first need to see if the Adamson win was a fluke or not.

Upcoming Games: UE on August 6

Defeated EAC 80-63, AU 73-70
Last Week: #18 - Congratulations Cardinals, you've finally broken into the win column! How does it feel? Because I feel that they've been more lucky than good, truth be told. They drew EAC with Claude Cubo serving out a one-game suspension, opening up the EAC interior to the big men of Mapua, then got a miracle banked triple from Allan Mangahas after "The Snake" sat out all but the last possession of the final quarter versus Arellano. The starting five has been fixed up, but the bench is still an issue, what with head coach Chito Victolero all but willing to sit Mangahas in favor of Andretti Stevens and Jumiel Chien. 

Upcoming Games: SBC on August 5

Lost to CSJL 81-116, defeated UPHSD 88-83
Last Week: #14 -The Blazers discovered that they have a pretty good group of scorers on their team, aside from Carlo Lastimosa, in the form of Paolo Taha, Jonathan Grey and Mark Romero. The goal now is to maximize those four, while trying to hide the fact that this team can barely play defense, allowing 83.67 points a game. In fact, there's no reason why this team can't suddenly morph into a run and gun squad. San Beda game aside, their zone clearly hasn't been up to par, allowing 7.33 made triples per game, on 25.33 attempts, both highs in the league.

Upcoming Games: JRU on August 3

Lost to ADMU 77-57
Last Week: #11 - UP's biggest weakness seems to be a lack of in-game adjustments, especially coming out of halftime, as they've scored a league-worst 12.5 points in the third quarter, an indication that opponents figure out what they're doing and stop it soon after. A more concrete worrisome stat would be their 24% shooting from the perimeter, also at the bottom of the UAAP. With Mike Silungan shooting just 31.58% and Mike Gamboa norming 35.9% from the field, they need to either run more screens to get them open looks, or encourage them strongly to take it to the hole more often. The latter approach might be better, seeing as how UP has the least free throw attempts in the league too.

Upcoming Games: FEU on August 4, UST on August 7

Lost to MIT 70-72
Last Week: #16 - The Chiefs continue to run their starters into the ground, with foul trouble providing their only respite (63.5 starter points, 9.33 bench points). Most recently against Mapua, the Chiefs tried pressing a bit before falling back to a zone, and the results were pretty good, as they scored 29 points in transition. That said, if they're going to run more, they'll need to expand their rotation, and who knows if head coach Leo Isaac is willing to do such a thing?

Upcoming Games: SSCR on August 8

Lost to CSB 83-88
Last Week: #13 - The Altas looked a bit more competitive with the return of Jeorge Allen, but it's also possible that Benilde was just a defensive sieve whose offense lasted longer than Perpetual Help's. That means, the game versus EAC will be will be worth watching to see if Allen's presence really does give them a big boost. The fact is, outside of that Benilde game, which resulted in highs in 3 point %, 2 point % and field goal %, the Altas couldn't put the ball in the hoop to save their lives. So do you point to, Benilde, Allen, or just luck? We'll find out soon.

Upcoming Games: EAC on August 6

Lost to ADU 54-85, DLSU 63-87

Last Week: #17 - With only 1 game remaining in the first round, it might be time for UE to figure out what it is they're going to do with this season. Is the team going to try their hardest to win a game or two? If they are, then please give more minutes to veterans like Lord Casajeros (4 mins. versus Adamson, 11 versus DLSU) and Adrian Santos (25 mins. versus Adamson, then a shocking 9 versus DLSU). Is the team going to instead develop their rookies? If that's so, then never give Roi Sumang, RR De Leon and BJ Zosa less than 10 minutes, especially Sumang, who was touted as being a special player. Unless "special" means you only get to play 6 minutes in a blowout loss.

Upcoming Games: NU on August 6

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