Sunday, October 16, 2011

NCAA S87 F4 Preview: #2 SSCR vs #3 CSJL

History Lesson:
Jul. 20: San Sebastian 71 - Letran 62 (recap)
Sept. 30: Letran 82 - San Sebastian 81(OT) (recap)

How CSJL could win: An early 25-10 hole in the first meeting between these two teams gave Letran fits, as they ran out of time trying to eat into a lead which they were never able to overturn. The Knights played things closer in the second game, down 20-15, but tying things up at the half, before taking a small lead at the end of three quarters. The difference came down to tactics. Letran had 18 second-chance points (thanks to a 20 rebound edge on the offensive glass), to just nine by San Sebastian, with a tie in turnover points. Game two saw Letran go back to what they do best, with a 22-8 turnover point score, but a 17-8 deficit in second-chance points. Making the decision easier is the fact that the Stags turn it over 21.58 times, worst in the league.

CSJL could use big games from:
  • Kevin Alas. Letran's best scorer was sidelined with five fouls in round one, finishing with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists. Playing more in check in round two, Alas played all but five minutes, tallying 22 points, six rebounds and 10 assists in the win.
  • Franz Dysam. The Robin to Alas' Batman also played poorly, with a five point, two assist, one steal game in round one. That jumped up to 12 points, three assists and three steals in the rematch.

How SSCR could win: The Stags have a knack for starting strong, holding foes down to an average of just 31 points in the first half, thanks in part to shutting down the outside shot, just 25.32 percent allowed from outside the arc. Their second half defense is much weaker however, as their points allowed shoot up to 39.16. Thus it becomes imperative that San Sebastian start strong and construct a large enough lead to survive the second half, something their offense was unable to sustain versus San Beda in their last two matches. To do that, they need to get out and run. They norm 14.11 transition points but notched just 20 in two games versus the Red Lions, and haven't hit 20 points since CSB nearly a month ago.

SSCR could use a big game from:
  • Calvin Abueva. "The Beast" was miserable in round two, going 1 for 12 from the field, though he made up for it with a 14 for 15 stint at the line and 20 rebounds. For sure, he'll want to bounce back after that kind of a shooting night.
  • Ronald Pascual. San Sebastian's inside-out threat averages 40 percent from the field this season, but he hasn't gone over 40 percent in his last seven games, shooting just 31.71 percent in that time.
  • Ian Sangalang. The third-year center loves this match-up. He's averaged 22 points on 65.22 percent shooting, 16 rebounds and 3.5 blocks, as the Knights are often powerless to stop the big guy.

Prediction: SSCR Stags

NCAA S87 F4 Preview: #1 SBC vs #4 JRU

History Lesson:
Aug. 10: San Beda 77- JRU 69 (recap)
Sept. 14: JRU 76 - San Beda 65 (recap)

How JRU could win: In their second-round match-up, the Heavy Bombers managed to conk out the machine-level efficiency of San Beda, holding them to a season-worst 12 assists. That led to the Red Lions scoring their nadir of the season, a puny 65 points, which is a big deal considering how this squad has broken the century mark three times this season. It didn't help that the normally productive bench unit of Coach Lim came up with just 21 points, the only time this year it's scored less than 31. With all of that in mind, it seems like JRU may want to try to let Garvo Lante try to beat them on his own (5 of 18 for 20 points in round two), while shutting down the rest of the team. That's certainly a risky proposition, but it may be a gamble worth taking, given how they're already the underdogs in this series.

JRU could use big games from:
  • John Lopez. The big man scored just eight points on 4/9 shooting in round one, but more than doubled his output in the rematch, 17 points on 10/17 shooting.
  • Nate Matute. JRU's designated sniper always seems to get open versus the San Beda defense, shredding them for 7 triples in 16 attempts versus the team.
  • Raycon Kabigting. Team captain was invisible in round one (eight minutes, 0 points, 0/1 from the field), but had a key role in game two off the bench (20 minutes, 13 points, 4/9 from the field).

How SBC could win: After a pitiful 1 for 11 outside shooting performance versus Lyceum, the defending champs have been shooting lights out, 40 percent to be exact, in the last three games. Combine that with their big man depth, and a concentrated effort to run more since that JRU loss (from nine fastbreak points to 16.71 in their last seven), and it's clear that taking down San Beda at this juncture is a daunting task. But the Red Lions' trick up their sleeves may just be giving the Bombers a taste of their own medicine. JRU forces a league-best 21.94 turnovers per game, but they themselves make a third-worst 20.89 miscues in each outing. And since JRU doesn't have the firepower that San Beda does, that could lead to a hole they can't climb out of.

SBC could use a big game from:
  • Garvo Lanete. San Beda's go-to guy had 23 points on 5 of 11 three-point shooting, 7 for 17 from the field, with five assists and two turnovers in round one. He scored 20 in round two, but needed a 3 for 10 from downtown, 5 for 18 field goal clip to get that, along with just a single dime and three errors. 
  • Dave Marcelo. Graduating big man is 8 of 10 from the field versus JRU, but in game one, he complemented his scoring with eight rebounds, five blocks and one turnover. In game two, he had just three boards, no blocks and five turnovers.
  • Anthony Semerad. The shooty big man is a mismatch for every team in the NCAA, but has played a grand total of seven minutes versus JRU this year because of injuries. In his last three games, he's normed 13.67 points, making half of his 14 triples, and is 12 for 17 from the line. 

Prediction: SBC Red Lions 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Coaching Carousel for the MVP Teams?

Could Norman Black take his magic back to the PBA? (pic source)

Here's what came out in today's Philippine Daily Inquirer, under the headline "Norman Black to Talk 'N Text, Chot Reyes to Smart Gilas five?" :

"Norman Black is set to make a return to the Philippine Basketball Association as a coaching rigodon is expected to be formalized this month involving teams bankrolled by business tycoon-sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan.
The arrangement will include coach Chot Reyes moving over to the Smart Gilas national team from Talk ‘N Text in the PBA.
But there’s a catch.
A source privy to the details of the arrangement told the Inquirer that even after the deal is made official, it will only be put in motion after the 2012 UAAP season.
Black will move to the Talk ‘N Text camp while Reyes will replace Serbian Rajko Toroman, who was offered the consultant’s post at Smart Gilas after serving as its head coach."
That rang a bell in the heads of a few posters in the online community as it sounded awfully familiar to what a certain "jamalsampson" had posted in the Interbasket forums on a thread about the Philippine Under-16 team about a month ago that went something like this:

"there is new talk within the MVP circle that there will be a rigodon of coaches in his backyard. (but they get to steal one coach from the otherside). Its like a wholesale promotion for everybody.

Rajko Toroman might not be re-signed or is to be retained as consultant

Chot Reyes is to assume the Head Coach position and Project Director for the new generation of GILAS whose core would come from the SEA Games bound SINAG.

Norman Black would go back to the PBA and replace Chot Reyes as Talk N Text Coach.

Olsen Racela is to go back to his Alma Mater and become the new Head Coach of the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

Getting his opportunity to Coach the U18 National Team is Jamike Jarin.

Ryan Gregorio retains his current positions at MERALCO.

Ronnie Magsanoc moves to San Beda Mendiola as Head Coach.

Frankie Lim retains his position at Maynilad but gets a executive position.

Boyet Fernandez retains his position in NLEX."

A few thoughts:
  1. "Rigodon," a word my MacBook's dictionary does not recognize, is actually a variant of "rigadoon" or "rigaudon," which is "a French baroque dance," according to Wikipedia. Now you know! 
  2. I think Coach Toroman did a great job given what he had at the time. It was a bit unrealistic to assume that the Philippines would be able to just return to the forefront of Asian basketball in a blink of an eye. Keeping him establishes continuity and a system, which are both important things if we want to really pursue that Olympic dream
  3. If you're going to replace Toroman, doesn't it make more sense to replace him with Coach Black, seeing as how he assembled and will coach the Sinag team for the SEAG aka Gilas V2.0? 
  4. Not sure how I feel about Olsen Racela as Ateneo head coach. I haven't seen him coach enough of the RP U-16 team to make an informed decision, but if or when Black moves on, he leaves some pretty big shoes to fill and I don't think Racela, who has coached for less than a year if I'm not mistaken, can even come close to filling them. 
  5. Why stop at a five-peat? Because it's one more than Franz Pumaren? If Ateneo keeps winning, then I say keep Black, especially if the door is open to match or even exceed Baby Dalupan's record. 
  6. I get the feeling that if Black leaves, so too does Kiefer Ravena. That might just be me though. 
  7. Who would I pick to coach Ateneo if Black left? Leo Austria would be at the top of my list, with Jamike Jarin second (should it be Jarin, we would live in a world where the Blue Eagles pressed more than the Green Archers).
  8. That said, Jarin deserves a high-profile gig like the RP U-18 team. Plus, if past history is any indication, the combination of Racela currently handling the U-16 and Jarin helming the U-18 means Ateneo will get a huge edge in recruiting the blue chip players that make up those squads.
  9. I'm not sure how thrilled San Beda fans would be with Magsanoc at the helm. There has always been a segment of Red Lions fans unsatisfied with Coach Lim, but you have to give credit where it is due, Lim does a masterful job shuffling the minutes of a stacked squad, and has crafted a Team B that could take over for the current Team A with little to no downgrade, save perhaps for a lack of depth. 
Obviously, the first domino to fall will what happens when Toroman's contract expires in November. Until then though, this is a ton of speculation that may not actually result in anything.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


History Lesson:
His shot off all game long, Ronald Pascual drove hard to the basket and found Calvin Abueva for an easy lay-up for what turned out to be the go-ahead basket. Turnovers and missed free throws by Ian Sangalang left the door open for San Beda however, but they came up empty on their final two looks at the basket. Off a timeout, Anjo Caram missed long two-pointer, then after Abueva went out of bounds trying to save the ball, the best shot the Red Lions could get was a corner triple by Dave Marcelo that clanked off the rim, ending San Beda's undefeated streak, as the Stags survived, 70-68. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • Up for grabs is positioning for the Final Four, as both these squads have clinched a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs. Should San Sebastian win, they'll be matched up against the JRU Heavy Bombers, while San Beda gets to extend their dominance over the Letran Knights. A San Beda win however, forces a playoff for the top seed.

SBC Stat to Watch : As much as possible, the defending champions want to get up and run, and put points on the board in a bad way. For whatever reason, the Red Lions just aren't equipped to deal with a low-scoring game, producing their two lowest outputs in their losses, just 68 and 65 markers.
SBC Player to Watch : Garvo Lanete was held to 0 points and a combined 0/8 from the field in the fourth quarter of SBC's two losses, showing how key this fifth-year veteran is to the team's fortunes. Now the Stags played the situation by guarding him tightly in the fourth quarter, giving him just two attempts and making other guys beat them, which they failed to do. That seems more likely than the 0/6 clip he exhibited versus JRU, which is pretty flukey.

SSCR Stat to Watch : When they lost to Letran, the Knights were able to "ugly up" the game, preventing the Stags from getting out in transition, and scoring off turnovers. San Sebastian got a combined 17 points from fastbreak and turnover points, their second-lowest since their near-loss to Perpetual Help, in which they tallied just 14.
SSCR Player to Watch : Ian Sangalang is the lone guy the Stags can throw it to in the post and watch create, as Dexter Maiquez and Bobby Balucanag are limited to scoring off offensive boards. In the first game, Sangalang was limited to 3 for 7 shooting from the field, 3 for 8 from the line, with just eight rebounds, leaving the door open for the Red Lions to win after flubbing late free throws. They'll need a sharper performance from him in this game if they want to avoid having to play yet another match.

Prediction: SBC Red Lions

One Day Later: EAC vs JRU, LPU vs CSB

JRU 90 - EAC 77
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Big man John Lopez padded the stat sheet to the tune of 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal, with 13 of those points coming in the second half, when the Heavy Bombers pulled away.

By the Numbers :
  • The big story of course is the turnover points category, as JRU turned up the intensity of their press to come back from a 10-point deficit. In the first half, they had 14 points from 10 EAC miscues, numbers that bloated to 22, off 13 turnovers in the latter part of the game.
  • EAC tried to compensate by getting to the line, off the physical JRU defense. They shot 20 of 28 from the stripe, above and beyond JRU's 9 of 16 clip, but it still wasn't enough.
  • The Bombers matched a season-high with 22 assists in the game.

The Other Names
  • Milan Vargas notched his season-high in the loss, with 20 points on 6 of 9 shooting, 8 of 10 from the stripe. He also finished with four assists to four turnovers. 
  • JRU's shooters were on the mark today, as they have been for the latter part of the season. John Villarias, Nate Matute and Raycon Kabigting were a combined 5 of 10 from downtown. The team as a whole shot 18.25 percent in round one, a figure that has crept up to 31.1 percent since.

LPU 94 - CSB 89
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Floricel Guevarra scored a season-high 27 points in exactly 27 minutes off the bench, while also adding eight rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in the process. Guevarra took up the scoring cudgels from an ice-cold Chris Cayabyab and delivered, with 16 points in the last 15 minutes of the game.

By the Numbers :
  • From the opening tip, the Pirates resolved to be the more aggressive team, attacking the rim to get to the line early and often. They finished with a 52 to 31 advantage in foul shots, a disparity that became more pronounced when you factor in that Lyceum made 73 percent or 38 of those freebies, while CSB converted only 18 or 58 percent. 
  • Despite said edge, the game was still back and forth from start to finish, with 15 deadlocks and 17 lead changes. The biggest lead of the game was just six, held twice by Lyceum at the start of the fourth and overtime.

The Other Names :
  • Both Michael Pate and Carlo Lastimosa turned in flawed performances, missing out on opportunities to win the game. The two were a combined 1 for 12 from outside the arc, and the Pirates were well aware of it, giving up the outside shot, especially to Pate, numerous times. Lastimosa also managed just splits at the foul line in the fourth, and in OT. Two made shots at the former could have put the game away, as it would have formed a two-shot advantage, while the latter would have made the deficit just two points instead of three. 
  • Jan Tan managed a 12-12 performance, but was limited to only 24 minutes due to a combination of foul trouble, and a desire by head coach Richard Del Rosario to match up with the tiny Pirates. 

NCAA Picking Record: 64-23-3

Sunday, October 9, 2011


History Lesson:
Playing without a flu-stricken Carlo Lastimosa, the short-handed CSB Blazers were ambushed by guest team Lyceum, in their NCAA debut. Up 38-30 at the half, Ian dela Paz and Mark Romero pulled CSB to within two out of the break, but Chris Cayabyab stymied that rally and then Allan Santos took over in the fourth quarter with 13 of his 19 points, handing the Pirates their first victory, 75-63. (Recap here

What's at Stake:
  • Both these squads are currently at 6-11. A win ties the victor with the 7-11 MIT Cardinals for fifth, which would allow the head coach to say, "Hey, we finished a slot out of the Final Four. We can build on this!" 

LPU Stat to Watch : Lyceum's schedule gave them San Beda and San Sebastian consecutively, which led to predictably horrible results, as the Pirates were held to just 67.5 points and 32.68 percent shooting. That stands in direct contrast to Benilde's defense, which concedes 77.94 points and 41.88 percent from the field, so the Pirates ought to be able to score on the Blazers.
LPU Player to Watch : Chris Cayabyab had a superb debut against CSB, with his best shooting game of the season, 20 points on 7 of 11 shooting. He'll look to reprise that in the final game of the season after getting held to just seven points, 3 of 17, against San Sebastian.

CSB Stat to Watch : As a revamped team, playing without their best player, the season opener of the Blazers had them turning the ball over 26 times, as they clearly hadn't gotten used to playing with one another. They've normed 16.81 mistakes since then, although they notched 25 against EAC in their last outing.
CSB Player to Watch : Sitting out the first game, Carlo Lastimosa was unable to engage Chris Cayabyab in a scoring duel, and though his numbers are down from his rookie of the year season last year, Lastimosa is still an explosive threat, especially if Jonathan Grey won't play again.

Prediction: LPU Pirates


History Lesson:
While sniper Nate Matute was out with a groin injury, it sure didn't seem like JRU needed him to disarm the Generals, outmatching them early by getting out in transition. Forcing 32 turnovers, the Heavy Bombers scored 30 turnover points, as John Villarias and John Lopez won this one easily, 76-60. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • At 8-9, JRU has already clinched the fourth seed in the playoffs and can't catch up with Letran. They can however, enter the Final Four with momentum on their side, and a .500 record if they win this one.
  • Currently 4-13, EAC is trying to make history repeat itself. They finished Season 86 tied with Perpetual Help, and a win would allow the Generals to drag a team down to the bottom with them, so to speak. Should they lose though, they'll have last place all to themselves.

EAC Stat to Watch : EAC is in last place when it comes to free throw attempts and makes, but they should have plenty of opportunities to go to the line given the physical nature of JRU's defense. They'll just have to hope they convert more than their normal 61.54 percent clip, which is in the bottom half of the NCAA.
EAC Player to Watch : Jan Jamon will look to close out the season with his third straight 20-point game. Averaging 23.5 points on 52.94 percent shooting, the EAC coaching staff has to concede that riding a sharpshooting Jamon might be their best bet at getting a "W."

JRU Stat to Watch : JRU will look to get a repeat of the first game by forcing the Generals into turnovers, for easy points. That may not be a problem, considering how the ball-handling situation of that team has actually deteriorated. EAC gave up 15.1 turnover points on average in the first round, but it bloated up to 19 in the second round.
JRU Player to Watch : Jeckster Apinan has been JRU's best rebounder, hauling down double-digit boards in nine of the team's 17 games. With EAC lacking ceiling outside of Claude Cubo, Apinan ought to dominate his match-up, and thus, the interior.

Prediction: JRU Heavy Bombers

One Day Later: CSB vs EAC, CSJL vs SBC

Alright, technically two days later...

CSB 82 - EAC 73
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Michael Pate hadn't gotten the advantage of major minutes in prior games, but with Jonathan Grey sitting this one out after getting stitches from when they played Letran, Pate showed why he was a big-time prospect this summer, scoring 18 points off the bench, including a 4 of 7 clip from downtown. The former LSGH Greenie also had three boards, three assists and a block in his 26 minutes, helping CSB gain separation from EAC rallies.

By the Numbers :
  • Benilde went with a running attack in this match, getting 19 points in transition. But it was perfectly executed at times, leading them to coughing up the ball 25 times, which gave EAC 25 turnover points.
  • The missing link in this game for the Generals was their outside shooting, as they finished just 1 for 12 from outside the arc. It's not like the Blazers were really guarding the perimeter either, they just missed their shots.

The Other Names :
  • With Joshua Torralba continuing to struggle since his return from a groin injury (21 minutes, six points, two rebounds, two turnovers), Jan Jamon once again was the focal point of the EAC offense, scoring 20 in 29 minutes, on 7 of 16 shooting, plus a 6 for 8 stint at the line. He also hauled down seven boards, dished out two assists, and made a steal.
  • Jan Tan bounced back from his horrible shooting performance versus Letran to go 4 for 8 from the field, good for 10 points. Combined with his 12 rebounds, Tan finished with a double-double that went nicely with his two blocks.

The scoring machine - Garvo Lanete proved the constant in this game (pic source)

SBC 84 - CSJL 68
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : With his teammates falling victim to foul trouble around him, Garvo Lanete showed how reliable he is, spreading his 28 points over the four quarters. Finishing 9 of 22 from the field with seven free throws, Lanete made several clutch shots, asserting himself in a must-win game for San Beda

By the Numbers :
  • Letran kept attacking the rim, and when the dust settled, Kyle Pascual, David Semerad, and Dave Marcelo each had four fouls, while Anthony Semerad, Jake Pascual and Mychole Sorela were tagged with three a piece. Still, the two teams shot the same number of free throws, 20, and San Beda even made more of them, 16. And all the attention to the San Beda bigs allowed Garvo Lanete, and big-man gunner Anthony Semerad to get open looks from beyond the arc. 
  • San Beda controlled the hustle point categories, leading the Knights in all three statistics. They led 17-10 in transition points, 19-14 in turnover points, and 9-6 in second-chance points. Letran typically needs wins at least two of those categories, so it was no surprised they lost this one.
The Other Guys :
  • Bothered all season by one ailment or another, Anthony Semerad finally returned and showed just how deadly this San Beda team is with him as an option off the bench. In 19 minutes, the more shooty Semerad scored 16 points, going 3 of 5 from downtown, 5 of 9 overall, providing a spark for the defending champs.
  • Kevin Alas was thwarted all game long by San Beda's defense. Scoring just 14 points, Alas missed all four of his outside attempts, and was just 5 for 11 inside the arc, as the physical nature of the game prevented him from finding his rhythm.

NCAA Picking Record: 62-23-3

Thursday, October 6, 2011


History Lesson:
Down by 11 at the start of the fourth quarter, Letran couldn't get going at the start of the final period, surrendering four straight scores by the Red Lions, putting them in jeopardy. Making matters worse was the fact that their big men, Jam Cortes and Jonathan Belorio, fouled out in the process of those four scores. The sole remaining Knights big man, Raymond Almazan, was able to make it 12 after hitting two charities, 58-49, but by then, the offense of Letran had been exhausted, and San Beda was able to kill time, resulting in the 77-62 win. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • At 14-3, Letran wants to end their elimination round stint with a victory. Doing so would send the 14-2 San Beda Red Lions to their third loss, and open the door for the Knights to climb up to the second seed should the defending champs fall once more to San Sebastian. On the other hand, should San Beda win, they effectively lock up the twice to beat advantage in the Final Four and could go up to #1 depending on the margin of victory (quotient rule)

CSJL Stat to Watch : Despite being the team known for getting to the line most frequently with an average of 31.65 attempts per game, it was the Red Lions who were more aggressive in round one, taking 26 free throws to just 18 by the Knights. Given their lack of depth up-front, Cortes and Belorio ought to be the guys taking it to the rim, and not the other way around, lest they get a repeat and find themselves on the bench with five fouls.
CSJL Player to Watch : San Beda saw Raymond Alamazan as a non-threat to score and the big guy proved them wrong, finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. He also got to the line a team-best 14 times, making eight charities. More importantly, he also finished with 0 fouls.

SBC Stat to Watch : Since their loss to JRU, San Beda has worked on honing their pressure defense. In the last four games, they've upped their average in turnover points from 17.1 to 20.5 despite dropping from 20 forced turnovers a game to 16.5. It's bound to be a chippy game if these two sides decide to press each other to death.
SBC Player to Watch : San Beda's extra possessions guy Jake Pascual scored just four points, but hauled down six offensive rebounds and blocked four shots in 25 minutes. His hustle will really help this team, and his defense will be called upon to hold Cortes down.

Prediction: CSJL Knights


History Lesson:
Shrugging off a 10-point game from Carlo Lastimosa as well as a near skirmish that cost the Blazers Jan Tan, and the Generals Jolas Paguia, CSB was able to surge ahead after the double ejection, scoring 13 unanswered that put them up 55-36. Baskets by Jan Jamon and Joshua Torralba tried to get EAC back into the game, but the lead was too great, and with the Generals defense non-existent, the two sides virtually swapped baskets back and forth in the final period, giving St. Benilde the 80-68 victory (Recap here). 

What's at Stake:
  • The 5-11 St. Benilde Blazers and the 4-12 Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals will try to avoid the cellar position by trying to win their last two assignments. 

CSB Stat to Watch : The Blazers allow opponents the most attempts from three-point land, 20.75 per game, and the most makes at six per outing. That's actually the same numbers EAC churns out on average, meaning if CSB isn't careful, they could find themselves buried in an avalanche of long bombs.
CSB Player to Watch : Jump-shooting big man Jan Tan has been underachieving this entire season, but he hit his low point versus Letran, missing all but one of his 11 attempts from the field and grabbing just three rebounds in the process. He'll be looking to bounce back in this game, but he'll likely be paired up against Claude Cubo, or his sparring buddy Jolas Paguia, both of whom can give him fits and make him settle for more ill-advised long shots.

EAC Stat to Watch : The Generals turn the ball over the most times in the league, at 21.6 miscues a game, and past experience has shown that the Blazers are now slouches when it comes to running back turnovers for points, scoring 27 and 24 against SSCR and JRU respectively, two other careless teams. This could be an easy source of points for CSB if the Generals display their usual brand of sloppiness.
EAC Player to Watch : Jan Jamon dropped 27 points in 30 minutes in the Generals' last game versus MIT, a career-high for him. EAC made that game a shoot-out and failed to win, but they're a better match versus CSB, given how their big men aren't stand-outs as well. If that's the route they take, Jamon will likely be the centerpiece of that attack.

Prediction: CSB Blazers

One Day Later: AU vs UPHSD, SSCR vs LPU

UPHSD 77 - AU 60
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Justine Alano, the Altas' undersized center, has quietly been putting up solid numbers all season despite the lack of height. He fittingly capped off his season with a 16 point, six rebound, two block performance.

By the Numbers :
  • The Altas were never a run and gun team, but they ambushed Arellano with a transition attack that earned them 21 points yesterday, a huge improvement from their 7.6 average. The Chiefs on the other hand, had just five in that category. 
  • Arellano took nearly as many three's as two point shots, 27 to 30. They weren't particularly good at hitting either, converting just nine treys, and 12 two-pointers. They finished 21 of 57 from the field, for 37 percent. Perpetual Help meanwhile, shot 45 percent. 
  • Neither side turned the ball over a lot. Arellano committed 12, while Perpetual made 11. The Altas were better at taking advantage of those miscues though, getting 17 points off them, compared to just two by the Chiefs. 

The Other Names :
  • This was probably not the way Arellano's graduating players expected to go out. Andrian Celada, Gerald Lapuz and Ronnel Delo Rsario all started, but didn't play a minute of the second half. The trio combined for just five points, eight rebounds, and two assists, in 32 minutes. 
  • Harold Sumera and Christopher Sison wrapped up their NCAA careers, but neither were particularly special in this game. Sumera tallied six points, two rebounds and two blocks, while Sison finished with two boards and an assist.

Boxed in - Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang teamed up to oust the Pirates (pic source)
SSCR 80 - LPU 68
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : Calvin Abueva turned around his 1 for 12 performance versus Letran by making 8 of his 13 shots for a game-high 18 points. He also added 12 rebounds, an assist and a block in 30 minutes of play.

By the Numbers :
  • The Stags finished with an overwhelming advantage in terms of shooting, making more 54 percent of their shots (27 of 50), while allowing Lyceum to shoot just 29 percent (23 of 80). 
  • San Sebastian left themselves vulnerable by committing 27 turnovers, giving Lyceum 23 free points. The Pirates made just 14 errors, leading to 11 turnover points for the Stags. 
  • Lyceum missed more shots, naturally giving San Sebastian a huge edge in rebounding, 52 to 40. However, the Pirates still managed to haul down more offensive boards, 18 to 7. It's just that they couldn't convert on those shots, as both teams finished with six second chance points.

The Other Names :
  • Once again Onofre Napia and Mark Francisco did the bulk of the damage for the Pirates, combining for 23 points and 14 rebounds. Lyceum's usual threats, Chris Cayabyab and Floricel Guevarra, were just 5 of 30 from the field for 13 points.
  • Ian Sangalang dominated the interior to the tune of 15 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. 
  • Players not named Ian, Calvin or Ronald combined to go 10 of 14 from the field for the Stags for 21 points. 

NCAA Picking Record: 61-22-3

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


History Lesson: 
The Pirates jumped out to a 12-8 start, but it didn't last, as San Sebastian head coach Topex Robinson lit into his players during a timeout. The dressing down worked, and the Stags went on a huge run that had them up 64-40 with a quarter left to play. Lyceum a rally still up their sleeves though, scoring 11 straight to cut the deficit down to 64-51, but the Stags weren't about to crumble. A quick return to the court by their starters nipped the rally in the bud, allowing them to triumph 82-57. (Recap here

What's at Stake:
  • After their overtime loss to Letran ruined their chances of sweeping the elimination round, the now 15-1 Stags will likely be out for revenge. Beyond that though, they'll look to keep their losses at just one. Any more, and the San Beda Red Lions may usurp the number one seed from them. 
  • Hanging on to the possibility of a postseason berth, the guest team Lyceum Pirates are 6-10, and must win their last two games and hope the Bombers get sloppy and fall to EAC. It's a pretty long shot, but they're playing with house money right now and have nothing to lose. 

SSCR Stat to Watch : The Letran Knights bullied the Stags into their worst shooting game of the season, just 23 of 67 attempts for 34.33 percent shooting. While it's unlikely for them to shoot that poorly two games in a row, it ought to be a wake up call for them to take better shots.
SSCR Player to Watch : It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Calvin Abueva is going to come out with a chip on his shoulder after shooting a horrible 1 of 12 from the field versus Letran. Stymied by the shot-blocking of Raymond Almazan and the rest of the Letran frontline, Abueva kept forcing up floaters. The tiny Lyceum frontline will hardly pose a similar threat, so expect "The Beast" to have a more efficient outing.

LPU Stat to Watch : Lyceum used to average 75.33 points, part of that coming from 6.11 triples being made on 30.05 percent shooting. In the second round, that's down to 71.14 points on 3.29 triples on a league-worst 19.83 percent clip. Defense have learned that they can simply stay home on shooters like Chris Cayabyab and Floricel Guevarra and force the other Pirates to beat them, usually a losing proposition.
LPU Player to Watch : Mark Francisco has done a decent imitation of suspended reserve center Allan Santos, averaging 16 points and 14 rebounds in the last two games. But can he guard Calvin Abueva? Unlikely, but he'll be trying his hardest.


History Lesson:
Coming close doesn't count for a lot in the NCAA, but the Altas did find themselves with a winnable game. Gerald Lapuz halved his charities to put the Chiefs up 71-62, but star player Jett Vidal countered with a triple, reducing the deficit to six, 1:34 left. Concentrated defense by the Altas drew two turnovers from the sloppy Chiefs, but the host school could not convert on the other end, with Vidal failing to repeat his make from downtown on two tries. They got close enough to make it 71-65, but by then, the clock had ran out, giving Arellano back to back wins for the first time in the season. (Recap here)

What's at Stake:
  • There's nothing at stake but pride in this game, as the 6-11 Chiefs take on the 4-13 Altas.

AU Stat to Watch : We know that the Chiefs love to zone, and when they do, they're vulnerable to three-point shots if they don't rotate quickly enough to the open guy. They didn't do that in the first half of the season, giving up 34.98 percent shooting from downtown and 6.87 makes. Well they seem to have righted that ship in the latter part of the year as that percentage has dropped down to 26.28 percent and four treys. Given that the Altas take and make the most triples in the league, that defense will be tested in their final game of the season.
AU Player to Watch : Andrian Celada's numbers are down across the board from his Mythical Five selection season a year ago, but the graduating senior will likely look to leave with a bang before heading off to the PBA-DL, and perhaps, the PBA after that.

UPHSD Stat to Watch : The Altas bucked a 33 percent shooting clip to beat Letran from the line, going 21 of 26 from the stripe. That's 80.77 percent, their best for the entire season, believe it or not. Can they repeat that feat?
UPHSD Player to Watch : Jett Vidal out-dueled Kevin Alas in their upset of Letran, with Vidal scoring 18 on 5 of 13 field goal shooting, and more importantly, 7 of 8 from the line. If he can match the production of Celada, then the Altas will likely be in good shape.

Prediction: AU Chiefs

UAAP Season 74 Men's Basketball Finals in Photos

Diana Moraleda is one of the super-talented photographers we have on and she made a video collage of some of the snaps she took of the UAAP Finals. Definitely worth watching.

UAAP Season 74 Men's Basketball Finals in Photos from diana moraleda on Vimeo.

One Day Later: CSJL vs CSB, JRU vs MIT

Carlo Lastimosa and the rest of the Blazers came up short versus Letran (pic source)

CSJL 72 - CSB 60
Recap - - - Preview

Player of the Game : The small but deadly rookie Mark Cruz nailed two big triples to help the Knights stay ahead, finishing with 11 points, (2/2 from beyond the arc, 3/4 from the field, 4/4 from the line) four rebounds, an assist and a steal to no turnovers. He's a great change of pace point guard from the more conservative Franz Dysam, and despite his lack of size, does not back down at all to those he guards.

By the Numbers :
  • Scoring five points in just a quarter in an embarrassment...but then again, CSB did get to within two points, twice. And when it was all said and done, Letran won by "just" 12 points, one more than the difference in the first quarter (16 to 5). 
  • As expected, Letran dominated the boards, 54 to 33, 17 to 11 on the offensive glass, leading to a whopping 10 to 2 score in second-chance points for the Knights.
  • CSB managed to lead in two of the hustle point stats, 19 to 12 in fastbreak points, including 13 in the third quarter, and 13 to 4 on turnover points, after making eight less mistakes than Letran's 18. 
  • Benilde came from back to back games in which they shot better than 80 percent from the field, and were norming 65 percent from the line entering this game. Unfortunately, they were just 22 of 39 in this match, or 56 percent. 
The Other Names :
  • The expected shoot-out between Kevin Alas and Carlo Lastimosa was a bit of a dud, unless you're a fan of misses. Alas led Letran with 16 points, but he was 5 for 13 from the field, 6 of 16 from the line in 35 minutes. Lastimosa on the other hand was the opposite of his efficient game versus San Beda, going 4 of 14 to finish with 11 points in 23 minutes, splitting his six free throws. Alas also finished with five turnovers, while Lastimosa made just two errors.
  • Jam Cortes dominated inside with 12 points and 14 rebounds, but had five turnovers. 
  • I understand that shooters have to shoot themselves out of slumps, but Jan Tan's inability to can medium-range jumpers hurt his team's momentum numerous times as the guards kept driving and dishing to him at the elbow. Tan finished 1 for 11 from the field for four points in 32 minutes. Had that been Mark Romero, this game would have been a lot more close. 

    One-man team, but the Snake couldn't do it alone in his final game as a Cardinal (pic source)
    JRU 78 - MIT 64
    Recap - - - Preview

    Player of the Game : The Alex Almario of the summer league was a hyper-efficient, pass first floor general, one that has yet to rear its head in the NCAA proper. That said, Almario has been scoring, and he had his best game of the season in this match, finishing with 17 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field, 7 of 8 from the line. With the defense keying in on guys like Raycon Kabigting and Nate Matute, Almario was often able to score unopposed.

    By the Numbers :
    • Through a combination of JRU defense, and what seemed like unpreparedness, Mapua found its offense sputtering throughout the game. They scored just 64 points, down from an average of 72 headed into the game. They got their second-worst three-point shooting performance this season (just 14 percent, with their worst being seven percent), and a 51 percent rate at the line, after norming 62 percent in their other 17 games.
    • I've long criticized MIT head coach Chito Victolero's inability to manage the playing time of his guys, and this could clearly be seen in this game. While he finally realized that you need to play Allan Mangahas in crunchtime, he then went and gave Josan Nimes just three useless minutes when the game was out of reach, and completely forgot about big man Mark Sarangay. Prior to the fourth quarter, Nimes had scored nine points, while Sarangay was responsible for eight. 
    • The Heavy Bombers creamed MIT in several categories, including all the hustle stats, but the most important figure might be assists, where they had a 17 to 8 advantage, a number that says a lot about both teams. 
    The Other Names :
    • All four of JRU's double-digit scorers came from their backcourt. Aside from Almario, Raycon Kabigting, John Villarias and Nate Matute combined for 37 points on 14 of 28 shooting, with each adding a triple to the mix. 
    • Do-it-all Mangahas was the only Cardinal in double-figures, scoring 22 on 10 of 18 shooting. He also had seven boards and two assists in his final collegiate game.
    • Big man Ralph Monserat came off the JRU bench and contributed nine points and six rebounds, outplaying his Mapua counterparts.
    • Yousef Taha was apparently suspended for this game due to disciplinary reasons by the team. Yes, on the very last game of the season when they had a chance to force a playoff for the fourth seed. That's both very brave, and very stupid.
    NCAA Picking Record: 61-21-2

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    NCAA S87: JRU vs MIT

    History Lesson:
    The Mapua Cardinals choked away a 60-48 fourth quarter advantage, as stingy JRU defense late held MIT to just nine points, while scoring 22 of their own. Raycon Kabigting caught fire late, scoring seven of his 14 in the final period, while on the other end, Mapua helped dig their own grave, when an errant elbow by Yousef Taha drew blood on Allan Mangahas, forcing the Cardinals to sit their veteran point guard. Without his leadership, Mapua could not execute on the final play, after a split at the line by Alex Almario. Though they had 17.8 seconds left to make a play, smart use of fouls to give by JRU had Josan Nimes inbounding with 1.8 seconds left. The Heavy Bomber defense immediately swarmed the ball-handler off the pass, and as a result, JRU squeaked by with a 70-69 win. (Recap here)

    What's at Stake:
    • With two games remaining on their slate, the 7-9 JRU Heavy Bombers could knock the 7-10 Mapua Cardinals out of contention with a win here. On the other hand, an MIT victory means the Cardinals will at the very least, figure into a playoff, should it comes down to that. 

    JRU Stat to Watch : The streaking Heavy Bombers extended their win streak to four after thrashing the Altas. They've managed to hold opponents to just 63.5 points in that span, a big improvement from the period prior to their streak, in which they gave up roughly 73 points. Mapua currently norms 72.18 points, but they've lost 4 of their last 5, and in each defeat, failed to break the 70 point barrier.
    JRU Player to Watch : After scoring in double-digits just twice in their first 11 games, team captain Raycon Kabigting has found his groove, with a five game streak of scoring 10 or more points. They'll need him to help spread the floor for their big men, along with Byron Villarias and Nate Matute.

    MIT Stat to Watch : The Cardinals have a ton of big men to help patrol the paint, but their perimeter defenders like Jumel Chien and Andretti Stevens are more nuisances than real obstacles, leading to the Cardinals conceding a 33 percent clip from downtown, worst in the league. Considering how JRU has found their range from downtown (leaping from 19.53 percent in round one to 31.37 percent in round two), the last thing the Cardinals need is to watch JRU connect on long-range jumpers.
    MIT Player to Watch : Is Yousef Taha a liability or an asset? While is scoring is up, thanks to a lengthy miss-less streak at the free throw line (13/13 in his last two games), his field goal percentage and rebounding goes up and down seemingly without rhyme or reason. The bigger problem though are his turnovers. He hasn't committed less than three since July 27 and is averaging a team-worst 4.75 turnovers in the second round.

    Prediction: JRU Heavy Bombers

    NCAA S87: CSJL vs CSB

    History Lesson:
    Normally known for their defense, the Letran Knights got suckered into a shoot-out, as both sides simply traded baskets for most of the game. For three quarters, St. Benilde was able to keep things tight, with a Jan Tan basket knocking the lead down to single digits, 80-72, in the first salvo of the fourth. That was the last time they'd be that close though, as a 15-6 Letran run by big men Jam Cortes and Jonathan Belorio sent the Blazers staggering. Carlo Lastimosa attempted a belated rally, but there simply wasn't enough time, and by then, even the Letran third-stringers had caught fire, closing out the game with a 7-0 run. The final score read 112-91, as Coach Alas' troops earned the distinction of being the first team to break the century mark in the season. (Recap here)

    What's at Stake:
    • Letran improved to 13-3 after inflicting the first loss on San Sebastian. If they're to force a playoff with San Beda for the second seed though, they'll have to hope the defending champions suffer at least one more loss, while they themselves take care of business. That means the Knights can't overlook the Blazers, as they did to the Altas.
    • St. Benilde's 5-10 record means they have an outside shot of forcing a playoff for the fourth seed, should JRU, Mapua and Lyceum all suffer horrific collapses. That's highly unlikely, but they'll want to put themselves in a position to benefit should the highly improbable happen.

    CSJL Stat to Watch : The Knights got more looks at the basket, which translated easily into more points. They took 20 more attempts than St. Benilde's 57, courtesy of a combination of offensive rebounds (28) and Blazer turnovers (19). Given how Benilde gives up the most offensive boards (17.53) in the league, the latter might be more likely, seeing as how CSB on a good day, turns the ball over just 17.33 times, fourth best in the NCAA.
    CSJL Player to Watch : The Knights exploited CSB's lack of height by getting the ball down low to Jam Cortes, who responded with 19 points and 12 rebounds. With Mark Romero no longer around for the Blazers, that further decreases the frontcourt options available to them to stop the Letran bigs like Cortes.

    CSB Stat to Watch : The Blazers were able to stay in step with Letran in terms of freethrow attempts, getting 42 to the Knights' 43. If CSB makes a concentrated effort to attack the rim and get the opponent's bigs into foul trouble, they may have a shot at winning this game.
    CSB Player to Watch : In his first game back since his whatever-you-want-to-call-it one game absence from the team, Carlo Lastimosa played an efficient 19 minutes, leading to 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting. While he'll likely be tempted to draw Kevin Alas into a shootout, a more measured performance might serve CSB better, considering how the Knights can turn misses into long rebounds into fastbreak opportunities for themselves.

    Prediction: CSJL Knights

    Saturday, October 1, 2011

    One Day Later: LPU vs SBC, SSCR vs CSJL

    The run and gun San Beda Red Lions snuffed out Lyceum in transition (pic source)

    SBC 101 - LPU 67
    Recap - - - Preview

    Player of the Game : Melo Lim showed a new side of his game, attacking the rim, both in the halfcourt and in transition, to show that he's more than just a three-point shooter (he missed all three of his attempts from outside). The head coach's son tallied 14 points in 20 minutes, shooting 5 of 9 from the inside the arc and a perfect 4 for 4 from the line. He also added three rebounds, four assists and a steal to no turnovers in his short, but productive stint.

    By the Numbers :

    • San Beda has been working on their man to man pressure defense, and it was clearly evident in this game as they forced Lyceum into 24 turnovers for 29 turnover points. 
    • The Red Lions also ran a whole lot off Lyceum misses, getting 24 fastbreak points, 18 in the first half, while holding the Pirates to just 14 the entire game. 
    • Surprisingly, the Pirates did not zone a whole lot the entire game, but perhaps they should have more, seeing as how their opponents were a mediocre 1 for 11 from beyond the arc. They themselves were not much better though, making 2 of their 15 triple attempts.
    • Another huge advantage for the Red Lions was the freethrow differential, as they got to the line 47 times for 32 makes, a far cry from Lyceum's 13 of 19 clip. 

    The Other Names :

    • Props go out to Lyceum's "big" men Mark Francisco and Onofre Napiza. Both shot fifty percent from the field in the face of the much taller SBC frontcourt while finishing with double-doubles. Francisco was 5 of 10 for 13 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, while Napiza was 6 of 12, leading to 12 points and 11 rebounds. 
    • The Pascual duo for San Beda had big outings as well in the game. Kyle Pascual finished with a double-double of 18 and 12, while Jake Pascual scored just six points, but had 12 boards and six dimes. 

    Sweep away - San Sebastian's undefeated streak ended at the hands of Letran (pic source)

    CSJL 82 - SSCR 81
    Recap - - - Preview

    Player of the Game : Kevin Alas seemingly couldn't make a shot from the left wing above the three-point line, a fact Ronald Pascual seemed to identify as he sagged off him on defense. However, Alas made the shot when they needed it the most, casually throwing up a triple that was nothing but net. Overall, Alas, playing with a sprained ankle, played 40 minutes while tallying 22 points (8 of 25 shooting), six rebounds, 10 assists and four steals.

    By the Numbers :

    • Letran feasted off San Sebastian errors, turning 23 turnovers into 22 turnover points. That was huge, considering how the Knights were unable to get out and run, scoring a measly two fastbreak points.
    • While the Knights got turnover points, the Stags scored on second-chance opportunities. They enjoyed a 58-40 rebounding advantage, 18 to 11 on the offensive glass, but they couldn't get the most important one, as Alas snatched Abueva' miss with seconds left on the clock to deny San Sebastian another look at winning the game in overtime.
    • Head coach Louie Alas of Letran said that he instructed his squad to play more loose on defense, instead of the tight, in your face style that has come to typify Letran. The switch worked, forcing the Stags into 23 of 67 shooting from the field, or 34 percent. 

    The Other Names : 

    • Bothered by foul trouble early on, Raymond Almazan came up big late in the game with some game-changing blocks. Overall, the big man finished with four denials and eight boards, surviving four fouls to stay in the game during the extra five minutes.
    • Ronald Pascual did his best to keep his team in it, tying the game late in regulation and in overtime. One wonders if the result would be different if he had the ball in his hands on that last play instead of Abueva. Overall though, Pascual finished with 25 points, five rebounds and four assists, with 14 of his points coming in the last 15 minutes of the game.
    • Speaking of Abueva, he too was hampered by foul trouble, leading to him missing a long stretch between the third and fourth quarters. He still managed 16 points in 29 minutes. To nitpick though, he was a horrible 1 for 12 from the field, but made up for it with a 14 for 15 stretch at the line, and a team-high 20 rebounds. 

    NCAA Picking Record: 59-21-2