It was a tug-of-war. We saw UE lead by 10 at some point in the game, with the Eagles seemingly rattled by the guile and slither of Roi Sumang – who torched the Eagles for 20 points (true shooting percentage of 65.6 percent). Ravena – the young stud who carried Ateneo teams through the last half of this decade – was nowhere to be found.
And then the switched went on and Ateneo started finding their groove. After three, Ateneo held a singular lead against the Red Warriors. They continued pummeling the Warriors – behind Ravena’s defensive pressure and Chris Newsome’s high wire act. Valiantly, Roi Sumang battled through the pain of three games and chronic knee soreness (I presume). And then, in their hour of need, with the Warriors down just three, Sumang felt to the ground.
A collective gasp took over the arena as the tiny boy wonder was writhing on the floor, holding his right knee like they were being torn apart. Was this the end not only of Roi Sumang’s season but also of the Warriors?
The Warriors would give one last hurrah but the Eagles would have none of it. UE would succumb to the pressure without their star player.
The score: 77-72 .
Graphs, Tables, Numbers
Individual Offensive Rating
Review of the Keys to the Game
Three is the Key
Suffice to say this wasn’t a good day for the Eagles – they made just 2 out of 20 attempts (10 percent) from downtown. The shots were actually “good” – not too contested to make them “bad”. Had players shot near their average, this would be an even bigger blowout. Von and Juami will come back from this and hopefully it’ll come next game (another important game).
WE WON THE REBOUNDING BATTLE. OMG.
With the exception of Mammie (who I said will still get his fair share of rebounds), no one on the UE side had a good night on the glass. They were lazy and relenting – I never thought I’d see the day when Nico Elorde would rebound two of his teammate’s misses IN TRAFFIC.
UE was just content on letting Mammie do his thing, we’ll think about what to do without it once he gets it. Problem is, of course, when Mammie goes out or when the ball continuously goes away from Mammie (long rebounds, opposite side rebounds).
It’s just a small 3 percent advantage (we rebounded more than we allowed) but is it sustainable? If Erram gets healthy, maybe. If Buenafe continues this (and there’s a decent chance that he does), maybe. If Ravena feels comfortable with his body, sure. But in his seemingly hobbled state.
The team as a whole rebounded 35.7 percent of their misses while allowing the neighbor to grab just 32.7 percent of their misses. I hope as the season goes to it’s end, Erram can finally play ahead of Golla (who at this point is just a bid body with a mean stare).
A Raven Among Eagles
Kiefer had a pretty good game compared to his last few games. His offensive rating (95.9) is above average but the amount of possessions he used (37.4 percent) certainly makes that better than what it usually sounds like. The biggest culprit is the turnovers – he coughed the ball up four times and if I remember correctly, some of them were just dribbling errors (dribbling through traffic).
His second and third quarter barrage were, however, big in Ateneo’s comeback – his ball hawking ways leading the charge against a UE team that lacks a creator outside of Sumang.
Overall, I’ll say this is a win. This is a good step in the right direction for Kiefer and if he can play the same way against NU, we’ll have a decent chance of winning.
Game Notes and Other Observations
1. Ateneo had trouble breaking the zone. This isn’t a new story though – they also had trouble with it when other teams used it (most prominent from my memory is La Salle and UST). The problem is that players are not properly well spaced which tells me this isn’t a part of their practices. Hopefully, they’ll fix this in the next few games. The full-court pressure is a weapon that most teams use to rattle or disrupt an opponent’s offensive flow. It worked when La Salle used it, it almost worked when UST used it and it almost worked again (save for a Roi Sumang injury) when UE used it. This scares me.
2. Elorde has really come along in the second round, especially in terms of shooting – he’s currently shooting 33 percent from downtown (3 makes on 9 attempts) in the second round. This gives the coaching staff another option that they liked to use in the preseason – their three guard sets with Nico/Juami/Kiefer. This is an option that isn’t a good one all of the time but it’s a good change-of-pace strategy that can drastically alter the complexion of a game.
3. One big reason why Ateneo was able to win the rebounding battle – the coaching staff made the conscious effort to play big when Mammie was on the floor. I remember a couple of Ravena/Newsome/Erram/Golla quadruplet when Mammie was in the game. This gave Ateneo three solid rebounders who can snatch the ball near their area code when Golla starts
(futilely) boxing out Mammie.
4. Did you notice Casajeros playing some “chicken wing” defense? (see picture above). If you don’t find that funny, I don’t know what’s funny anymore.
5. Over their last four games, Ateneo’s really pushed the envelope. The pace in those four games: 75.9, 88.4, 80.4 and 86.5. The points they scored on fastbreaks: 22,11,6 and 22. Can they keep this up against a more athletic NU team? We’ll have to see.
Next game is against NU. I won’t have the time to write my pre-game so here’s a highlight on NU:
1. They are the top defensive and offensive team in the league. Keep that in mind. For Ateneo, we’re the second best defensive team and a below average offensive team.
2. They’re winning despite Parks’ very “meh” season (by his standards). That scares me.
3. Their man in the middle, Emmanuel Mbe, is having an underrated season. He’s just one of 20 players to have an above average offensive rating and PER – 101.5 (6th best in that group) and 24.1 (also 6th best in that group).
4. Ateneo’s playing a “back-to-back” (they played the UE game last Sunday). That will be an important but often ignored fact. Also, it’s a weekday game and if you’ve watched a lot of Ateneo basketball, you’ll realize that we’re not really good with weekday games (for some reason).