Tuesday, August 23, 2011

UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 6 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.

The NCAA's first round is finally over! Huzzah! As a result, this week's power rankings deal with the fallout of the titanic SSCR-SBC match, and the latest happenings in UAAP, which include FEU regaining ground, and DLSU losing it.

Defeated SBC 70-68, EAC 99-63
Last Week: #3 -The Stags finally ended San Beda's win streak with some ferocious endgame play and then sleepwalked through parts of the EAC game and still managed a 30+ point victory margin. The scary thing about those two games? San Sebastian beat the Red Lions with Ian Sangalang struggling (nine points, eight rebounds), and then missing some time because of cramps. Against the Generals, Ronald Pascual came off the bench and was a bit pedestrian (16 points on 13 attempts), by his own lofty standards. In other words, they can win games with one of the Big Three playing an ordinary game, so what more if all three are on full blast?

Upcoming Games: None
Defeated UST 82-57
Last Week: #1 - Slowly but surely, the reserves are starting to come along for the Blue Eagles. After Juami Tiongson dominated the ball early on, it's now been Tonino Gonzaga (5.4 points a game) who's become the lift off the bench, shutting down his man on defense before hustling back for a trey or layup on offense. Add to that what seems to be the return of Justin Chua (his scores have risen from 2 to 4 to 9 to 18 points in the last four games), and suddenly, teams can't expect a drop-off anymore when the reserves take the floor. That bench will certainly come in handy versus the upstart UE Red Warriors, doubly so if the Eagles get the chance to make DLSU's trip to the Final Four damn near impossible too.

Upcoming Games: UE on August 25, DLSU on August 28
Lost to SSCR 68-70, defeated UPSHD 69-55
Last Week: #2 - The Red Lions suddenly look a step slower in their last two games, unable to execute late versus the Stags, and allowing the Altas to hang with them for much of the encounter. In those two games, San Beda was held below 70 points, the only times that has happened this season. The likely culprits? Opponents have denied SBC the outside shot, as the Red Lions got just two triples in each of the two games, with their outside shooting percentage dropping below 20 percent since the season opener.

Upcoming Games: None
Defeated JRU 70-59
Last Week: #5 - With their defeat of the JRU Heavy Bombers, Letran has moved into first place in turnover points with 18 a game. Prior to that game, they already led the league in second-chance points, scoring 12.67 per encounter, while holding opponents down to a league-low 6.89 in the same category. The question on everyone's mind though: can they beat the two teams ahead of them?

Upcoming Games: None
Defeated NU 68-53, lost to FEU  61-62

Last Week: #4 -The Falcons misplayed their fourth quarter comeback and as a result, came up a possession or two short of stealing a win against FEU. They're still in control of the second seed, but lost out on a chance to clinch it.The big bright side though has been the stellar play of Rodney Brondial, backing up Austin Manyara at the center spot, averaging six points and eight rebounds in the second round. That's miles ahead of the abysmal performance fifth-year starter Jan Colina had been giving the team (three points, 3.9 rebounds) before his injury.

Upcoming Games: UP on August 27

Defeated UP 59-53, ADU 62-61

Last Week: #8 - FEU got some sorely needed "W's" to go above .500, as RR Garcia emerged to pull off some clutch performances, but the close margin of the wins and their "come from behind"/upset nature basically indicate that had a few bounces of the ball gone the other way, the Tams could just as well be at 4-6. They've been lucky in the second round, making a league-high 22.67 two-pointers, most of them mid-range jumpers but that's rarely sustainable, as the Adamson Falcons will attest. And of course, hanging above their heads is the possibility that Terrence Romeo will botch a critical play at the last possible minute and hand the opponent a win. Of the 39 turnovers committed by the team in Round 2, 10 have come from Romeo, more than a fourth of all the miscues the team has.

Upcoming Games: NU on August 27

Defeated EAC 80-68
Last Week: #12 -Am I overrating the Blazers? Probably, but sneaking into a tie for fourth in the standings is a huge feat considering that this team started 1-4, before rallying to win 3 of their last 4. They're also winning despite allowing opponents nearly 11.44 more shot attempts a game, and trotting out a big man rotation of Jan Tan, Ian Dela Paz and Tim McCoy (15.8 points and 13.6 rebounds a game).

Upcoming Games: MIT on August 24, UPHSD on August 26


Last Week: #9 - Finishing the first round at 4-5, tied for fourth place is a pretty impressive feat for a guest team, but now the hard part comes, repeating, possibly even improving in the second round. Now they're no longer a surprise coming out of nowhere, but a known quantity, and opponents have been taking advantage of their league-worst 22.67 turnovers a game, sending them into a three-game tailspin. One reason for their slide? Taller teams can easily handle bench sparkplug Allan Santos, who went from Mr. Double-Double in their first five games to...not Mr. Double-Double, 6.75 points and 7.75 rebounds in the last four games of the first round.

Upcoming Games: JRU on August 26
Lost to ADMU 57-82
Last Week: #6 -Ateneo exposed UST's weakness last weekend: stop Jeric Fortuna, and you stop the entire Growling Tigers team, as Emman Monfort allowed just seven points and no assists from the fourth-year point guard, resulting in a 25-point win. Another missing figure? Chris Camus, who went scoreless in 21 minutes, picking up just four rebounds, no assists and five turnovers. They will need more of both when they enter a must-win game versus DLSU on Thursday, though the really point of emphasis ought to be their defense. Another two-point quarter by the Archers ought to get them nice and deflated. 

Upcoming Games: DLSU on August 25, UE on August 28

Lost to UE 69-74
Last Week: #7 - It's strange how a year ago, La Salle was overachieving, and now, after adding more talent and size, they're suddenly underachieving, and on the cusp of missing the Final Four, with all of their five remaining games becoming must-wins. The numbers reveal several things: In wins, the Archers tally 21.25 assists, a number that drops to 11.4 in losses. The same thing goes for their free throw shooting, from 67.06 in victories, down to 59.19 in defeats, and perimeter scoring, plunging from 22 points outside the paint to 16. Losing Yutien Andrada for the rest of the season hurts in all of those categories (when he does gets minutes, of course) but the silver lining is that Papot Paredes might finally get freed, and when Dindo Pumaren decides its a good idea again to go with three big men, Norbert Torrres reverts to his natural small forward position, with Paredes at the five spot.

Upcoming Games: UST on August 25, ADMU on August 28
Lost to ADU 53-68, defeated UP 65-43
Last Week: #13- Suddenly, NU is right in the thick of things again, even though Adamson was able to get revenge on them for their first round upset win. With La Salle's collapse to UE, the Bulldogs are just half a game behind DLSU, and even if both teams lose all their games this week, they'd end up in a tie that could extend all the way to their head to head meeting on September 8. The key stat of three of the four NU wins? The Bulldogs had 15 or more assists in those games (Adamson round one is an outlier). With Bobby Ray Parks actually passing the ball to Emmanuel Mbe now, they're a much more difficult team to defend now.

Upcoming Games: FEU on August 27

Last Week: #14 - The Cardinals have an entire round to prove people wrong and rebound from a thoroughly underwhelming first round. They've only had one really convincing win, an 80-63 demolition of EAC, with their other two victories dictated by last-minute attempts (a game-winner by Allan Mangahas versus Arellano, a missed game-winner by Jett Vidal versus Perpetual Help). 6'7" big man Yousef Taha has been too inconsistent, averaging just 10.6 points and 9.4 rebounds after norming 13.9 and 14.2 in the preseason, but part of that falls on the coaching staff's shoulders. Taha should never be allowed to launch triples or drive to the rim from the three-point line. Post him up!

Upcoming Games: CSB on August 24, UPHSD on August 29
Lost to CSJL 59-70
Last Week: #10 - Can we pin JRU's three-point woes entirely on Nate Matute missing games? Even with him back the Heavy Bombers went 1 for 10 from the beyond the arc in their loss to Letran. What's strange is that they were a decent perimeter team in summer, making 5.8 of their 18.4 attempts per game. In the NCAA proper, they're down to 2.8 of 14.2, a drop of 11 percentage points. Without that floor spacing, defenses have keyed in on their bigs, John Lopez (12.1 points) and Jeckster Apinan (10.3), both of whom happen to be JRU's top scorers.

Upcoming Games: LPU on August 26

Defeated UPHSD 71-65
Last Week: #15 - Winning back to back games for the first time in the season gave the Chiefs a much-needed shot in the arm, rejuvenating their hopes of fighting for a Final Four spot. What changed in the last two games? Defense. The Chiefs were able to hold the Blazers and the Altas to under 70 points, allowing the offensively challenged Arellano team to outscore them. Of course, the question facing them in the second round then becomes can they do the same thing against more talented offenses? They'll find out soon enough as they kick-start round two against Letran.

Upcoming Games: CSJL on August 24, EAC on August 29

Defeated DLSU 74-69
Last Week: #18 - Head coach Jerry Codinera has onions for bucking conventional wisdom and not zoning DLSU, opting instead to fight fire with fire, pressing the Archers back. Wonder of wonders, it worked, and the Red Warriors were able to pull off upset number two for the season. In truth though, it might be something as simple as making sure Paul Zamar has some support when he goes off. Going off their two wins, when Paul Zamar cracks 15 points and has another player do the same, it's usually enough scoring punch to eke out a win.

Upcoming Games: ADMU on August 25, UST on August 28
Lost to CSB 68-80, SSCR 99-63
Last Week: #11 - The Generals have the misfortune of being on the losing end of the two biggest blowouts this season, a 41-point spanking by the defending champs, and their latest, a 36-point massacre to San Sebastian. In the face of all these blowouts, head coach Gerry Esplana has been diving deeper and deeper into his bench, surfacing with the likes of Remy Morada, Renz Juliano and Roy Villegas. This is not even "this game is a blowout, let me insert my third-stringers" behavior but giving them minutes in the midst of game that can still be won. This is as opposed to just playing Jan Jamon more (averages 22.9 minutes and has played less than twenty minutes three times this season) or giving the other much-hyped rookie Igee King some playing time (two registered DNPs, and just 17.6 minutes on average).

Upcoming Games: CSB on August 17

Lost to SBC 55-69
Last Week: #17 - The Altas got a morale victory, rattling the cages of the San Beda Red Lions by keep things close for a while, until the last big SBC run. Ironically though, their "star" player Jett Vidal embodies a lot of what they do wrong, leaning almost exclusively on three-pointers, thus contributing to a poor field goal percentage, as opposed to driving down the middle and getting a foul. It's that sort of inefficient game that makes them struggle, especially against opponents with a plethora of offensive options.

Upcoming Games: CSB on August 26, MIT on August 29

Lost to FEU 53-59, NU 45-63
Last Week: #16 -The fight seems lost from the Fighting Maroons as opponents have figured out that UP's offensive options are limited. After averaging 67 points in their first five games, UP's production is down to 52.2 points, matching a similar drop in field goal percentage, from 38.08 percent to 30.73 percent and fastbreak points, from 17.6 transition scores to 10. It would help if they could get some consistent scoring from their interior, as the UP guards have been checked. Only Paolo Romero has been giving them consistent points from a big man spot, and it's mostly from jump shots too.

Upcoming Games: ADU on August 27

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