As expected by most people,
if not all, the UP Fighting Maroons notched their fifth loss of the season. This game against the UST Growling Tigers featured a typical Season 77 performance by UP — a promising start yet a mind-numbing and horrible finish. But this came with a zest of variation. Instead of the classic third quarter meltdown (Exhibit A: versus NU and Exhibit B: versus FEU), it was a fourth quarter fiasco which cemented their place at the cellar of team standings along with Adamson.
Once again, UP began the game on a high note with Mikee Reyes pushing the pace early on, driving inside and converting those No, no! Yes! layups and Dave Moralde out-sprinting everyone for transition points. The Fighting Maroons were able to sustain their momentum through the second quarter and erect a sizable lead, as high as 11, with bench guys like Henry Asilum and Agustini Amar contributing to UP’s cause. It also helped them that the Tigers were having a hard time executing their offensive plays as their point guards (Sheak Sheriff, Renzo Subido and Ed Daquiaog) struggled in their playmaking chores during the first half. The Growling Tigers relied early on the individual brilliance by Louie Vigil and to some extent, Kevin Ferrer.
In the third quarter (the time when UP usually buckles to the opposition), UST flexed their muscles and decided to feast on the thin UP frontline by pounding the ball inside to Abdul. This put Gelo Vito and Mark Juruena in foul trouble as they cannot keep up with the Cameroonian center of UST who totally dominated the paint. However, the Fighting Maroons were able to withstand the third quarter UST surge and managed to keep at bay.
The final ten minutes of the game was a bliss for UST while an agony for UP. The Fighting Maroons could barely buy a bucket in the last quarter, scoring a dismal seven points for the entire period. Aljon Mariano, who has been dormant in the first three quarters and actually in the first three UST games this season, exploded out of nowhere to instigate a 20-3 run which sealed the fate of the two teams.
Reviewing the Keys of the Game
More Ferrer, Less Abdul
UP was successful in doing this task in the first half. Ferrer was on his usual form, taking ill-advised midrange jumpers and three-pointers. He made a couple (including a four-point play) but majority of his shots were not falling. This of course denied Karim Abdul more touches in the early going. Second half was a different story. With Abdul getting his touches inside, he annihilated the defense of Fighting Maroons. His strength and skill was no match for the likes of Juruena, Vito and JR Gallarza. Ferrer, meanwhile, did not have as many touches as in the early going. It appeared that he was not bothered by the lack of scoring opportunities for him as his teammates stepped up huge in this game.
Knocking Down Threes
|3pt shooting vs UST||3pT FG||3PT%|
In total, the Fighting Maroons shot a lackluster 5-22 from downtown. All five threes made were in the first three quarters and none in the fourth where they took plenty in hopes of shaving off the ballooning lead. The two best UP snipers, Moralde and Gallarza, had an off-day as they only combined for three three-pointers made out of the 12 they attempted.
Better Player Rotation
As compared to the previous game against FEU, coach Rey Madrid had done a better (but not much) job in player rotation this time because the last one was just crappy bad. However, I believe it was not the best that he could have done. This is one of rare instances where I think Reyes should have gotten more minutes at the point. He was great in his 12-minute spell. His baskets were timely as UST chased UP in the first half. Perhaps coach Rey Madrid was hoping that Asilum could sustain his hot start through second half. He opted to stick with Asilum despite him missing shots and struggling on defense for most parts of the second half. Also, Madrid’s reluctance to use the backup bigmen like Andrew Harris and Darwish Bederi caused foul trouble for UP’s primary bigs (Juruena and Vito). Harris, in his limited minutes, was able to defend Abdul decently and should have gotten more time. But for some reason I can’t understand, Madrid opted to play Juruena and Vito together despite both were saddled with foul trouble.
Another game where they played good basketball for the early parts, only to succumb in the end. The story of UP Fighting Maroons so far in Season 77, in Filipino terms, is sirang plaka. We’ve seen it before. But guess what, it’s highly likely we’re going to see it again soon.
The task of barging in the win column for the Fighting Maroons won’t get easier as they’ll next face the defending champions De La Salle Green Archers who are coming to form recently after their poor start to the season. Should we just press fast forward and move on to the game against Adamson?
Featured image courtesy of Mark Cristino, Pinoy Exchange