There wasn’t much fluidity to the game offensively. Both teams were bricking shots and turning the ball over multiple times. I won’t bore you much with the details but I’ve listed down some things I’ve noticed throughout the game.

Game Notes

  1. It started with NU’s full court pressure. Right off the bat, the Bulldogs set the tone. Nothing was going easy for the Tamaraws, not even bringing the ball down the court. NU continued to press the whole game, which even forced the FEU big men to bring the ball down (because NU big men don’t press as well as the guards).
  2. In this game, Maurice Porter was cast as The Irritant. His sole purpose was to stick to Terrence Romeo like glue and to make life hard for him. Credit the NU guards for getting into Romeo’s head. There was even this one play where Glenn Khobuntin had an extra motion giving a foul and Romeo looked really frustrated (and kind of pissed), and it seemed like they were going to go at it. The Bulldogs succeeded in throwing Romeo off his game.
  3. FEU was sloppy passing the ball early. Had 4 turnovers in the first 1:38 mins. Credit goes to NU for their defense and full court press.
  4. For NU, they did everything right offensively. They were running the fastbreak everytime. FEU was clearly sagging to let NU shoot from perimeter but credit NU for taking it hard to the hole. FEU also with bad lateral movement and guards feasted getting into the paint. NU was missing long shots, but can’t fault them for that because most of them were wide open (they’re just bad shooting from the perimeter).
  5. NU has gotten much better though and more cohesive as a unit. Props to Gelo Alolino and Khobuntin for stepping up and attacking the basket. I always thought the inconsistency of NU’s role players is what’s holding them back from being special.
  6. NU probably didn’t do anything in the two-week break except watched FEU videos as they played perfect defense on them. Fouling to stop momentum on fastbreaks, staying on shooters, sticking to Romeo, and the help double and rotations came very quickly.
  7. Disappointed FEU didn’t push the ball as much. A lot of their successful plays came from either transition or semi-transition. Also disappointed they didn’t use much pick and rolls for a team that relies primarily on the pick and roll for halfcourt sets.
  8. They weren’t pressuring Tolomia, actually sagging off of him. Which is why I think the FEU coaching staff wanted him to take the last possession for the potential game winner. The NU defense was focused on RR and Romeo so it made sense for Tolomia to have the last shot. Their best isolation player Romeo was struggling and RR is a great player but his strength lies off the ball and in pick and rolls. With five seconds left, I think it would’ve been tough for Garcia to catch the ball and run a set play. In any case, I could be wrong and RR might’ve made an amazing one-on-one play but the coaching staff called Tolomia’s number and I support their decision. Note: Tolomia has been excellent beating his man off the dribble.
  9. Might be rust, might be nerves. Everyone except RR Garcia shot horribly. The FEU Tamaraws were missing shots they’ve made all year but also credit NU for staying on shooters which lead to the Tamaraws not having many threes that game.
2pt FG 3pt FG FG
RR Garcia 6/13 (46.2%) 2/2 (100%) 8/15 (53.3%)
Terrence Romeo 2/11 (18.2%) 1/5 (20%) 3/16 (18.8%)
Mike Tolomia 3/8 (37.5%) 0/4 (0%) 3/12 (25%)
Rest of the Team 8/25 (32%) 1/4 (25%) 9/29 (31%)

Review of the Keys to the Game

If you read my pregame article, you probably noticed the keys to the game were Bruno Mars songs. So I’ll start things off by saying we caught a Grenade from NU (will think of better jokes in the future).

Those drives to the ring killed FEU. (Photo Credit: KC Cruz, GMA News)

Those drives to the ring killed FEU. (Photo Credit: KC Cruz, GMA News)

It Will Rain

Going into the game, FEU was averaging 8.7 threes and 27.1 attempts, also scoring 39.3 perimeter points per game. FEU shot 4/15 (26.7%) from three and 9/37 (24.32%) from the perimeter (22 perimeter points). Needless to say, NU did their job and guarded outside shots well. The three ball is a big part of FEU’s offense and NU staying on shooters helped them win this game. Also the fact that Porter could keep Romeo in check one-on-one disrupted the dribble drive motion. Less attacks toward the baskets and less three-point shooters open because of the dribble drive. The staying on shooters was seen in the drop from 27.1 attempts to 15 that game.

Locked Out of Heaven

It was clear that FEU was sagging off NU and daring them to take outside shots (which they shot a horrible 6/35 or 17.14%). But the FEU defense had terrible lateral movement and the NU guards were getting to the hole everytime. I give credit to the FEU game plan but it wasn’t executed well. NU score 34 of the 59 points inside the paint shooting 17/30 (56.67%).

Runaway Baby

I don’t know how it was possible but FEU had 15 fastbreak points. It didn’t seem though that they were running the break and should’ve run in transition more. They were horrible in halfcourt sets and the few times they were in the open court they were successful. FEU should’ve gotten to the fastbreak more in my opinion to look for easy baskets. I think they failed this category even if they surpassed their average of 11.6 fastbreak points per game.

Note: FEU failed in all keys to the game.

My thoughts on Romeo

Porter shuts down Romeo. (Photo Credit: Mark Cristino, ABS-CBNnews.com)

Porter shuts down Romeo. (Photo Credit: Mark Cristino, ABS-CBNnews.com)

The truth is Romeo didn’t change much from this game compared to the first round. He was taking shots he normally takes except this time he was missing them. FEU runs a lot of screens and isolations for Romeo and its part of their offense. He’s a scorer and FEU realizes they need his offense most nights. Not only that, he was passing the ball too. Unfortunately, everyone was just missing shots. Did he make mistakes? Sure, he made several of them especially down the stretch missing open guys but every star makes mistakes in the clutch at some point in their lives. He will learn from it and will get better.

If one game makes you think Romeo is suddenly “back to his old self” (whatever that means), then maybe your fundamental belief in what makes him great wasn’t that strong in the first place. It was shocking to see how public opinion on Romeo suddenly shifted from being a consensus MVP/one of the best to a ball hog immature player. So much goes into a season that we as viewers don’t see, and I believe Romeo puts in the time and hardwork to be great. I still believe in Terrence Romeo.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an FEU Tamaraw supporter, there’s no need to panic. One game doesn’t erase everything the FEU Tamaraws have built this season. There are also variables like Coach Nash/Josh being away from the team and the two-week break rust/momentum killer. The loss is probably more because of those variables and not the declined basketball quality of the FEU Tamaraws. I wouldn’t read too much into the loss of the FEU Tamaraws. Look for the coaching staff to put the team back on track.