(2) De La Salle Green Archers (12-2) vs. Adamson Soaring Falcons (9-5)
This bracket is a match-up that mirrors each other in terms of their respective defensive systems. The De La Salle Green Archers boast of the “Mayhem” while the Adamson Soaring Falcons implement the trademark Pumaren pressure defense.
On paper we can say that these two teams are evenly matched. Both have imposing big men in newly-crowned back-to-back Most Valuable Player and Cameroonian sensation Ben Mbala for DLSU while ADU boast of rebounding behemoth Papi Sarr. Both have court savvy court generals in Kib Montalbo and Jerie Pinggoy both in the top 10 in assist with 3.1 and 5.1 respectively. And both are loaded with outside gunners in Jolo Go and Andrei Caracut for DLSU and Jonathan Espeleta and Jerrick Ahanmisi for ADU.
Let’s go to the numbers. The Green Archers lead the league in offense scoring 92.2 points per game while shooting a league-leading 45% over-all and also a league-leading 52.4% from the 2 point area. The boys from Taft ranks 3rd in three-point shooting racking up 31% from downtown per outing. It is also first in the league in points scored in the paint owing to its awesome frontline in Mbala, Abu Tratter, Prince Rivero and Justine Baltazar scoring 42.6 inside points per game.
Defensively, mayhem is not really mayhem-ish. It allows 80.7 points per game. It also allows opponents to shoot 41.4% from the field and 28.9% from way beyond per outing. The bright spot defensively for the Green Archers is that they hold the opponents to only 41.9 rebounds per game (2nd) and they limit their opponents’ free throws to only 12.1 per game (league best).
The Soaring Falcons are second to the last in offense with just 75.7 points per game while shooting only 39.8% each outing. They average 40.1 rebounds per game 8 less than DLSU’s 48 rebounds per game. They only allow the opponents to score an average of 73.8 points per game. They lead the league in the fewest perimeter points allowed with only 16.9 points per game and they limit the oppositions playmaking by limiting them to only 13.6 assists per game.
Now what separates the two teams against each other? His name: Ben Mbala. The Cameroonian behemoth averaged 21.8 points, 9.2 rebounds per game in leading his homeland to the quarter finals of the FIBA Afrobasket prior to the UAAP Season and this stint made him more confident, more sharp and more versatile. If the Soaring Falcons’ frontline of Papi Sarr, Sean Manganti and Dawn Ochea can neautralize Mbala, they may have a fighting chance for a finals slot. Otherwise it will be an Ateneo-La Salle duel in the final for the 2nd consecutive year.
Bold Prediction: La Salle in 2 games.