Tuesday, August 16, 2011

UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 5 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.

While the top three still remains the same, the end of the first round of the UAAP and the near-finish of the same for the NCAA have shaken up the middle and downwards. There are also entire clusters of teams all with the same record stacked against each other, so this week ought to be interesting to follow.

Defeated FEU 74-67
Last Week: #1 - In past seasons, the Eagles have folded at least once in the regular season and have used those losses as a springboard to better play. The overtime win against FEU probably accomplished the same thing, except that they didn't need to lose, cranking up the defense late, and getting timely production from their main guys. And as previously mentioned, with the bench slowly becoming a factor in these wins (nine big points from Justin Chua bridging the third and fourth quarters vs FEU), the Eagles are still improving, still becoming tougher to beat.

Upcoming Games: UST on August 20
Defeated JRU 77-69
Last Week: #2 - Playing minus another big man with Jake Pasual suspended for a game, San Beda still managed to survive, beating out an inspired JRU team. But while everyone looks to the frontcourt, they seem to forget that it is usually the hot shooting of Garvo Lanete bringing the Lions back from the dead and propping them up late. If Ronald Pascual manages to contain him, or get the fifth-year sniper into foul trouble, it'll be interesting to see if San Beda will still be able to break a zone defense, given how erratic  their other shooters have been.

Upcoming Games: SSCR on August 19
Defeated MIT 71-66
Last Week: #3 - San Sebastian's weaknesses are actually pretty clear-cut. Aside from relying heavily on their Big Three, they don't try a whole lot from downtown aside from Ronald Pascual (12 attempts a game), and they turn over the ball a ton, thanks mostly to, of course, Calvin Abueva (team has 22 turnovers, Abueva accounts for 5.3). The latter one is what they'll need to take care of, what with San Beda norming 16.5 transition points and 18.38 turnover points, it's almost like their weakness was tailored made for the defending champs to exploit.

Upcoming Games: SBC on August 19
Defeated UP 72-46, DLSU 68-66

Last Week: #5 - Adamson got a clutch game from Alex Nuyles, making up for a flop of a late-game when in a similar situation against NU in the first round. That 4 for 22 dry spell continues to look like the outlier that it is, as it continues to be the only game in which Adamson shot less than 20 percent, while it shoots an average of 35.39 percent from downtown in the other seven games its played. But save for that second quarter in which the defense shut La Salle down to just two points, the offense was barely clicking, especially that of Lester Alvarez. With a heavy week ahead of them, consistency will need to be the key to come out 2-0.

Upcoming Games: NU on August 18, FEU on August 21
Defeated EAC 76-67
Last Week: #4 - The Knights survived an off-day by their guards and leaned on their "big" men to win the game, as Jonathan Belorio, Jam Cortes and Raymond Almazan combined for 43 points and 38 rebounds against the Generals. Their problem is that the flipside isn't always the case, meaning the guards can't always bail them out when the bigs are hit by foul trouble, as seen in their losses versus San Sebastian and San Beda. A large part of that is the inconsistent play of VJ Espiritu and Kevin Racal, who by some misfortune, are usually inconsistent at the same time as each other too. 

Upcoming Games: JRU on August 19
Lost to DLSU 71-74, defeated UP 77-70
Last Week: #6 - Will UST finally get over the hump and beat a team with a winning record in the second round? They manage to control the boards, 47.25 a game, tops in the UAAP, but the fastbreak defense is problematic (14.75 points given up in transition, highest in the league). The Tigers look better now though than at the start of the season, what with Karim Abdul norming 13.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in their last four games, making up for the continued shooting slump of Kevin Ferrer's who's shot just 20 percent from the field in their last six games. 

Upcoming Games: ADMU on August 20

Defeated UST 74-71, lost to ADU 66-68
Last Week: #8 - Here's fuel for those who doubt the efficacy of the full-court press: it got La Salle zero steals against the Adamson Falcons last Sunday, meaning all 15 of the Falcons' turnovers were self-inflicted. On the bright side, that means the entirety of DLSU's (incomplete) fourth quarter comeback came courtesy of more traditional, straight-up defense. As for Almond Vosotros? When he got twenty-plus minutes in the summer, he averaged 16.5 points, four rebounds and an assist, nearly eking out an upset against San Beda. I wouldn't mind giving him the keys to the car with LA Revilla limited.

Upcoming Games: UE on August 20

Lost to ADMU 67-74

Last Week: #9 - The last time FEU lost three games in a row? The tailend of Season 72, when they lost to Ateneo in the last game of the elimination round, and then dropped two games and their twice-to-beat advantage to UE. Prior to that? Similar circumstances in Season 71, losing to UE on the last day of elims, failing to get the second seed in a playoff with DLSU, and then losing to DLSU in the Final Four with the Archers having twice to beat. While many assume that a lack of free throws having been hurting FEU, that's not actually true, it's actually a declining free throw percentage. In their first four games, the Tams hit 73.91 percent of their charities and were 3-1. Since then? 1-3, and a 60.008 percent clip at the line.

Upcoming Games: UP on August 18, ADU on August 21

Lost to JRU 68-74

Last Week: #7 - The Pirates ran into a bad match-up against JRU, as the team that gives up the most turnovers (22.67) faced the team that scores the most turnover points (19.25). Save for their 73-67 loss to EAC, Lyceum had a good first round, beating all the teams they should beat, while losing (and in the case of Letran and JRU, losing closely) to the top tier squads. If they follow that formula again, maybe this time with an upset win sprinkled in somewhere in the second round, there's no reason why they can't make the Final Four and hold off the suddenly large number of teams sneaking up behind them in the standings.

Upcoming Games: TBD
Lost to SBC 69-77, defeated LPU 74-68
Last Week: #14 -With Nate Matute firing on all cylinders, the Heavy Bombers took down a slumping Pirates team, putting them right back into the Final Four hunt. But to make up for their slow start without him, they'll have to beat the Letran Knights on Friday, a team that plays a similar style. The problem there though is that since the Knights play a pressure defense similar to JRU, and JRU gives up more turnovers than they do, the Bombers look to be on the losing end of things. With that in mind, head coach Vergel Meneses' unusual tactic of only going with veteran point guard Alex Almario in the second half after a full twenty minutes of Romnick Mendoza and Philip Paniamogan might deserve some review.

Upcoming Games: CSJL on August 19
Lost to CSJL 67-76
Last Week: #12 -With the veterans playing off-kilter, either getting slapped with unnecessary fouls (Jan Jamon) or failing to show up (Claude Cubo), EAC had no choice but to turn to rookies Joshua Torralba and Jolas Paguia to carry them against Letran. Unfortunately, their size crushed the Generals, creating a 22-7 gap in second-chance points, but that won't be a problem going into Wednesday's game against Benilde, the winner of which gets a tie for fourth place along with Lyceum. What they will need to do is ease up on their one-on-one play, as they're still tallying the fewest assists in the NCAA, with just 12.63 a game.

Upcoming Games: CSB on August 17

Lost to AU 60-64
Last Week: #10 - The Blazers got a golden opportunity to move up the standings against the Chiefs after EAC fell to the Knights, but too many no-shows prevented it from happening, as Carlo Lastimosa, Jan Tan and Ian Dela Paz combined for just four points. Luckily for them Paolo Taha's scoring and Tim McCoy's rebounding helped prevented a blowout, but they'll need all hands on deck when they play EAC. If the Generals can get Claude Cubo going, he's liable to wreck the Blazers, especially on the glass, where they give up 18.38 offensive rebounds per game, partly the reason why they lead the league in fewest shots per game (just 58.13)

Upcoming Games: EAC on August 17
Defeated UE 91-51
Last Week: #16 - While it is certainly a coach's prerogative to keep starters in late during a blowout, but that's usually what leads to accusations of running up the score and stat padding, and it could backfire in a snap, the moment someone goes down with an injury or gets into a fight with an understandably pissed-off opponent. Just something to keep in mind when the Bulldogs tackles an Adamson team that will be itching to get revenge for a first-round upset, and a UP team that was winning before Bobby Ray Parks went into beast-mode in the second half. They definitely won't see as many easy two-point shots as they did versus the Red Warriors, that's for sure. 

Upcoming Games: ADU on August 18, UP on August 21

Lost to SSCR 66-71, defeated UPHSD 65-63
Last Week: #13 - Each time you watch the Cardinals play, it's a frustrating, pull-out-your-hair experience because the squad has so many weapons, but the coaching staff doesn't seem to know how to use them effectively. Why they continue to bomb away from downtown despite having some talented big men baffles me. If anything, throwing the ball down low out to be the first thing they do before looking for a three-pointer. Instead, it's the other way around, with the big men being forced to create shots of their own while out of position and the shot clock winding down. In terms of numbers, 36 percent of their shots are triples, with the next most team having it as 31.8 percent.

Upcoming Games: TBD

Defeated CSB 64-60
Last Week: #18 - A revamped starting five did a load of good for the Arellano Chiefs and caught the St. Benilde Blazers off by surprise, allowing them a forge a close win. Despite still playing short-handed, they at least got out and ran (16 transition points, came into the game averaging 14.14) and shared the ball (20 assists, normed 16.42 beforehand), two things they'll need to keep doing in order to win, or at least not be in the cellar.

Upcoming Games: UPHSD on August 17

Lost to ADU 46-72, UST 70-77
Last Week: #11 - Well, UP is fighting again, after back to back crushings to close out round one. But while it was great to see Mike Silungan and Mike Gamboa regain some of their offensive groove, super-subs, now part-time starters, Jett Manuel and Jelo Montecastro inherited whatever malaise affected the former duo, as they went from heroes to zeroes. That inability to get some sort of rhythm where all the scorers can contribute continues to elude head coach Ricky Dandan, and after UST targeted Alinko Mbah early on, he now had to worry about teams doing that as well.

Upcoming Games: FEU on August 18, NU on August 21

Lost to MIT 63-65
Last Week: #17 - They should have won Monday's battle against the Mapua Cardinals, but the Altas just couldn't hit free throws, which is a huge shame. Already lacking height and flashing some horrible numbers on offense (last in 2-point percentage, 39.37 percent, and field goal percentage, 34.53 percent), you would think a large portion of practice would be devoted to converting those free looks at the basket. Instead, they're actually second-worst in the league from the line, at 57.14 percent, thus necessitating a desperation three-pointer that had to be double clutched, wrecking Jett Vidal's aim and their hopes for an upset.

Upcoming Games: AU on August 17

Lost to NU 51-91
Last Week: #15 - You would have thought that the Red Warriors would come out on fire, eager to do a reprise of their victory against NU in the first round. Instead, UE seemed out of sorts with shots clanging all over the place, despite a nice early second quarter run built off NU turnovers. Not even NU running up the score in the fourth quarter seemed to get them fired up. They might just be content to win a game, but if LA Revilla, Simon Atkins and Joshua Webb all miss Saturday's game, that could be winnable for them if they put some effort into it.

Upcoming Games: DLSU on August 20

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