It’s that time of the year again for the UAAP and we’re back to zero. Even if bitter rivals De La Salle University and Ateneo De Manila University hold the twice to beat advantage, it’s basically back to square one for the rest of the field which includes number 3 seed and defending champions Far Eastern University and the surprising and dangerous number 4 seed Adamson Soaring Falcons. What are the things that we must expect prior to the aforementioned match ups?
De La Salle University (1) vs. Adamson University (4)
As expected, De La Salle University dominated the double round eliminations with a 13-1 win-loss card. Their only loss was against their archrival Ateneo Blue Eagles.
The Green Archers and their souped up line up leads the league in offense averaging 88.1 points per game. The most productive personnel for the Green Archers as expected are their big men who produce a league leading 44.3 points per game, basically half of the point production of the whole team. That solid inside production is anchored on the performance of phenomenal big man Ben Mbala who averages in double-double with 20.6 points per game and 16.0 rebounds per outing.
If Papi Sarr, Sean Manganti and Dawn Ochea can hold their ground against La Salle’s beast and limit his production, half of the task is done. The other half of the task is limiting the production of La Salle’s superstar, the graduating Jeron Teng who averages 16.9 points per game. More than what he produces that is reflected in the stat sheet, what Adamson must watch out for from the King Archer is his leadership and ability to take over in crucial situations and lift his team from the jaws of defeat which he has proven many times before.
Another thing for Teng is he wants to end his collegiate career on a winning note, another big concern for the Falcons if they would want to get past the DLSU wrecking crew.
For the Soaring Falcons, one shining aspect of their game is their outside shooting. Collectively, the team is shooting a league leading 33.1% from beyond the arc led by rookie sensation Jerrick Ahanmisi who leads the league in 3 point percentage, shooting 37.8%.
Another play to watch out for beyond the arc is Ahanmisi’s backcourt partner, combo guard Rob Manalang who must be stable as a court general if the Falcons would want to break La Salle’s mayhem pressure defense.
If Adamson wants to extend their stint in the final four this season or even enter the finals, their bench must be ready to produce and slug it out with the bench production of the Green Archers.
Comparatively the bench of DLSU produces an average of 37.6 (second in the league behind the bench of Ateneo) while the bench of ADU needs to work double time as they are last in league in producing only 23.6 points per game.
It is also exciting to watch how both teams will beat each other’s defense. Both Coaches Aldin Ayo and Franz Pumaren are employing whole court trapping defense. For this aspect, the team with a deep set of personnel will have the advantage.
Over-all this is an exciting match-up with La Salle hell bent on reclaiming the crown it last won three years ago. While Adamson on the other hand is announcing everyone that they’re back and they’re back strong.
Players to watch out for:
DLSU: Ben Mbala, Jeron Teng, Kib Montalbo, Aljun Melecio
ADU: Jerrick Ahanmisi, Papi Sarr, Rob Manalang, Sean Manganti
Fearless forecast: La Salle Green Archers in one game. Adamson is on the rise but their time will have to wait. Their potential is endless with some key players coming in next season but this is just La Salle’s year.
Ateneo De Manila University (2) vs. Far Eastern University (3)
The seeding in this match does not really matter. Even though seeded lower at number 3, the defending champions Far Eastern University Tamaraws is considered the most dangerous team in this year’s final four. Despite losing 6 key players to graduation, Coach Nash Racela and his boys found their way back to their usual place in the post season.
Early last week, talks of a dream finals match-up between Ateneo and La Salle was being brought into the picture. But Coach Nash begs to disagree. He said that he has a different picture of a dream finals match up and that one could involved his Tamaraws.
Aside from having a steady offensive system in place with Racela at the helm, the main strength of the Morayta-based squad is defense. During the eliminations, the team only allowed an average of 65.1 points per game while scoring 66.2.
The Tamaraws is also putting an effort in the rebounding department even if they lack a dominating big man like Ben Mbala or Papi Sarr. The team averages almost 49 boards per game, second in the league behind De La Salle.
They are also consistent with their outside shooting with an average of 30.9% from beyond the arc. The tamaraws are also playing excellent transition defense by only allowing 6.4 fast break points per game which leads the league alongside with the least 2nd chance points allowed with 7.9 points.
The young core of the Ateneo Blue Eagles will have their hands full with this match up and the likes of the rising Isaac Go must contribute significantly on both sides of the floor. The young big man out of Xavier School has been averaging 6.1 points per game and 4 rebounds per game. He has shown flashes of brilliance in scoring 15 points in one game. Another player who needs to step up is Chibueze Ikeh who averages only 5.4 rebounds per game.
The post season may be the most opportune time for Thirdy Ravena to step out of his brother’s shadow. He has been inconsistent during the eliminations only averaging 9.9 points per game. Aaron Black also failed to pick up the momentum after scoring 23 points during their first game. It was downward spiral after that awesome performance.
For Ateneo to be able to make Cinderella appearance in the finals, guys like Anton Asistio, Adrian Wong and Matt Nieto must up their performance.
Players to watch out for:
FEU: Monbert Arong, Raymar Jose, Allen Trinidad
ADMU: Thirdy Ravena, Aaron Black, Isaac Go
Fearless Forecast: Everybody is wishing and drooling for a dream match-up between De La Salle and Ateneo but given the maturity of FEU it will be the Tamaraws in 2 games.