Tuesday, September 6, 2011

UAAP/NCAA Power Rankings: Week 8 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.

As the UAAP winds down, teams begin to shuffle all over the place as the Final Four picture starts to crystallize. There's a ton of movement in the NCAA as well, as squads continue to jockey too for the fourth seed. More importantly, the committee of one has saved the last two spots for two "special" teams who showed spectacular inability this past week in either defense or offense, as anyone who watched either of those games got to catch a bit of basketball history.

Defeated UP 73-58, NU 61-39
Last Week: #1 - One win way away from a possible elimination round sweep, Ateneo head coach Norman Black's attitude toward it is simple: "We'll go for it now. We don't have much of a choice." The ace up his sleeve? The likely rookie of the year Kiefer Ravena, who played just 14 minutes and attempted one shot in his first UAAP game. Since then, his averages are 14.6 points on 45.6 percent shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1.5 steals and 1.6 turnovers in 28 minutes. Adamson fans will stick to their guns and say assigning a bigger guard on him will give him fits, and to some extent that's true (ask Jelo Montecastro and Miggy Maniego), but with the stakes these high, it's unlikely that Ravena won't come to play.

Upcoming Games: ADU on September 10
Defeated AU 97-70
Last Week: #2 -The Stags have scored 90+ points in their two second-round assignments, and frankly, look a bit bored. We'll see how they deal with back to back assignments after some week-long breaks, when they have JRU on Wednesday, and then Benilde on Friday.

Upcoming Games: JRU on September 7, CSB on September 9
Defeated EAC 118-64
Last Week: #3 - Looks like head coach Frankie Lim was right when he said that his squad was just tired after losing to San Sebastian and then three days later, playing the Altas, as they looked like they were in tip-top shape running EAC to the ground. Another week off means being able to rest players before a series of back to back games begin. Hopefully by then, banged-up players Mychole Sorela, their squad's dedicated defender, and Anthony Semerad, a big who can spread the floor, will be healthy, as their niche roles might come into play.

Upcoming Games: None
Defeated JRU 75-56
Last Week: #4 - The Knights play a lot worse when big man Raymond Almazan is acting as the last line of defense in the shaded area. Arellano and JRU were able to get to him in the two Letran games of the second round, and that allowed them to keep things interesting, as Almazan was held to just 5.5 points and 8 rebounds. This week will be very interesting, as they face the fourth and fifth teams in the standings. Winning both means even more sepearation, while a loss might mean some must-win games in the future to avoid slipping lower in the standings.

Upcoming Games: MIT on September 7, LPU on September 9

Defeated UE 78-69

Last Week: #6 - A sprained wrist suffered by Russel Escoto could be a huge blow to this team in the twilight period of the UAAP eliminations, especially if it means he won't be available versus UST on September 8. Already having lost Pipo Noundou before the season, followed by his cousin Christian Sentcheu, the FEU bigs are down to just Aldrech Ramos as the one true center, plus undersized forwards Carl Cruz, Mark Bringas and Clarence Foronda. With a chance to move up the standings should Ateneo defeat Adamson, they'll need all hands on deck when they play the Tigers and the Archers.

Upcoming Games: UST on September 8, DLSU on September 11
Defeated ADU 74-58
Last Week: #7 - UST's second-half comeback is indicative of how well this team has improved in terms of defense this season, and it's a defense that got that much better mainly because they now have Karim Abdul guarding the paint, and ready to putback those missed triples from the two Jerics. The question moving forward is how much does losing Carmelo Afuang hurt this squad. They compensated by having a career-best game (yes, six points, two boards, two steals is his career-best) from Kim Lo and catching a huge break when the jump-shot happy Falcons didn't take advantage of the three fouls on Abdul and Camus. Other, smarter teams will not make that same mistake.

Upcoming Games: FEU on September 8, NU on September 11
Defeated UE 76-57, lost to UST 58-74
Last Week: #5 - As I've said over and over, the Falcons are a team built around the jump shot, and when they aren't making them, they're toast. In three of their four losses (NU, FEU, UST), they shot under 20 percent from beyond the arc. The exception the opening day Ateneo game, still sort of qualifies, as the Eagles held them to under 30 percent shooting from inside the arc, and under 30 percent shooting overall from the field. Toss in the fact that Austin Manyara might still not be 100 percent by Saturday and there is a real possibility that the Falcons might find themselves losing the twice-to-beat advantage.

Upcoming Games: ADMU on September 10

Defeated LPU 80-59
Last Week: #9 - Yes the Cardinals have won four in a row, but two of those came against the cellar-dwelling Perpetual Help Altas, one came against a Lyceum team missing three rotation guys due to suspension and illness, with the only "legit" winning being a victory against St. Benilde. The fact also that their margins of victory have been all single digits, save for the Lyceum blowout, means that to really gauge if Mapua is legit, they'll have to win, and win in impressive fashion, against the team directly ahead of them, the Letran Knights.

Upcoming Games: CSJL on September 7

Defeated AU 66-64
Last Week: #12 - Losing Mark Romero to personal reasons (he's migrating to the US with his family) really hurts this squad's chances of making the Final Four. Not only are they going to lose their starting power forward, who happens to be their second-best rebounder (4.9 boards, second to Tim McCoy's 5.5 average), they'll also miss their best three-point shooter, as he's made 20 out of 62 attempts. Without him, the Blazers will have to play more conventionally, and that means big men like Jan Tan and Ian Dela Paz ought to act like big men and impose their will on the paint.

Upcoming Games: SSCR on September 9

Lost to MIT 59-80, UPHSD 73-78

Last Week: #8 - It's hard to read too much into Lyceum's recent two-game skid, given how one of those two losses came when they had two suspended players plus Gian Mallari out sick, but a common element has been an inability to shoot better than forty percent from inside the arc. They shot just 35.6 percent in the two second round losses, making one wonder why they gave Allan Santos a mere four minutes in their loss to Perpetual Help.

Upcoming Games: CSJL on September 9

Defeated UP 73-72
Last Week: #13 -The Archers kept their playoff hopes alive and finally won a game in the second round after overcoming a UP team that had upset on their minds. Key stats? It was the first time La Salle shot decently, making better than forty percent of their field goal attempts and sixty percent from the foul line. They also got a 31 to 13 free throw advantage that illustrates once again, why being a jump shooting team is a bad idea. That said, it's important to note that head coach Dindo Pumaren did himself no favors, panicking again by fielding in rookies Ponso Gotladera and Dan Sara in the first half, and only changing the press when his squad insisted on it. Final four or not, odds are good that he'll be out come the end of the season.

Upcoming Games: NU on September 8, FEU on September 11

Lost to SSCR 70-97, CSB 64-66
Last Week: #10 - The Arellano Chiefs lost both games without head coach Leo Isaac but acting head coach Junjie Ablan at least gave more exposure to the Arellano bench, especially guys like Ronnel Del Rosario, and against CSB, Chris Okpe. Both might come in handy when they play JRU in a game that Arellano will likely need to win in order to keep its Final Four hopes alive.

Upcoming Games: JRU on September 12

Defeated LPU 78-73
Last Week: #16 - The Perpetual Help Altas surprised many by issuing an upset loss on guest team Lyceum last Monday. For whatever reason, the Altas feel comfortable attacking the rim when they're up against the Pirates. They got 41 free throws against them in their first round encounter, and then had 31 in their round two rematch, impressive, considering they haven't broken the 30 free throw barrier against any other team.

Upcoming Games: EAC on September12

Lost to ADMU 58-73, DLSU 72-73
Last Week: #18 - The Maroons stuck close to Ateneo up to the fourth quarter, and then came a triple away from forcing overtime versus DLSU, at least showing some of that competitive fire that had been missing in their previous round two games. Versus DLSU, UP notched their season-high in fastbreak points, scoring 31 transition points, the first time they broke 30 points in a game. 

Upcoming Games: UE on September 10
Lost to CSJL 56-75
Last Week: #14 - Many thought the return of Nate Matute was the missing piece in the JRU puzzle, enough to push them over the top, but it hasn't worked out that way. They're far from a top-flight defensive club, because of the simple fact that they're shedding more points than they can defend. Not only are they committing the most turnovers per game at 21.64, they're also tops at fouling opponents and sending them to the line, for a league-high 31.45 times a game. An upset against San Sebastian would do wonders for them, but it's unlikely.

Upcoming Games: SSCR on September 7, AU on September 12

Lost to ADU 57-76, FEU 69-78
Last Week: #15 - This late in the season, head coach Jerry Codinera still hasn't figured out his rotation. Case in point, versus Adamson, Lord Casajeros played 24 minutes, Lucas Tagarda 21, Biboy Enguio 15 and Erwin Duran 14. Those same players saw 10 minutes, 11, 3 and 8 respectively versus FEU. It's not like the changes did any good either. UE has shaken up their starters so many times to no effect, with the bench outscoring the starters five times out of six in the second round.

Upcoming Games: UP on September 10
Lost to ADMU 39-61
Last Week: #11- Congratulations NU! You get this place because your team scored the least points in anyone's recollection in the UAAP.

Upcoming Games: DLSU on September 8, UST on September 11
Lost to SBC 64-118
Last Week: #17 - Congratulations EAC! You get this place because your team was blown out by more than 50 points, a deficit normally reserved for NCAA high school games. 

Upcoming Games: UPHSD on September 12

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