Ah. That ending. That ending was so boring and so exciting at the same time. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves — there was no chance in hell that Kiefer wasn’t taking that shot. Doesn’t matter whether he’s shooting well or he’s shooting poorly, the kid lives for these moments. When he floated that ball high, it was like the TV’s frame rate slowed for a second, before restoring to its usual 60+ fps then swish. Game. Set. M-A-T-C-H.
It was a close game, with no team leading by double digits (highest it got was 9, when Ateneo led midway through the 2nd, 24-15). I was off by one point on my prediction (DAMN IT!) but my understanding of how the game would go was spot on — UST, despite the talent drain (with two starters leaving for the pros over the past two years), is still a tough matchup for Ateneo because of their length and their physicality (not to say that the Eagles are pushovers or that UST plays like thugs).
Game Summary, Flow and Individual Offensive Ratings
Keys to the Game
Get Keep That Ball! Get Keep That Ball! Get Keep That Ball!
Ateneo “won” the battle (16.3 percent vs 17.5 percent) but lost the war (UST got 15 fastbreak points and 12 turnover points). Overall I’d put this at “even”.
Go Ateneo! One Big (3-point) Shot!
Ateneo attempted more than their fair share of threes (24) but made less than their norm (20.8 percent). I think UST “won” this since Ateneo only has a +6 point advantage from 3-point land compared to what I expected (upwards of +15).
Rebound Spelling! R-E-B-O-UND!
Weirdly enough, Ateneo DOMINATED the rebounding battle. As a team, they rebounded about 42 percent of their misses and about 71.4 percent of UST’s misses. The biggest surprise of the game was Arvin Tolentino — coming into the game, he was a below average rebounder (somewhere in the neighborhood of 8/15/12 rebounding splits). So imagine my surprise when he rebounded 12 (6 on each side of the floor) for a rebounding split of 16/21/19. Consider this (for now) an outlier game for the rook.
Game Notes and Other Observations
1.Kiefer’s numbers are weird. On one hand, his metrics are excellent — 2nd in the league in PER (33.1), 6th highest offensive rating (106.5) and highest usage rate in the league (30.2 percent). More impressive is his evolution – he’s become Ateneo’s primary source of points, the same role I pegged last year. His AST% is now at a very impressive and very primary ballhandler-worthy of 28.8 percent (4th).
However, it bears mentioning that in five games worth of data (sans Adamson game), Ateneo plays much better when Ravena is off, rather than on the court.
|Points per 100||Possessions|
Now, you have to understand — Ravena-less lineups usually play against bench player heavy opponents. And it’s not like Ateneo goes from “good” to “bad”. They just go to “good” to “awesome” (NUMBERS WISE) without him.
A big reason for that probably is the slower pace – Ateneo plays at a slower pace when Ravena is not on the court (76.5 vs 72.5 possessions per 40 minutes) and it results into a much more tight and controlled game, the type of game that allows Ateneo’s sound rotations to shine (since a more free-flowing game is all about setting the matchups right rather than sound rotations). Ateneo plays defense better when he’s off-the-court (about 7.2 points per 100 better).
Does this mean Ateneo has to stop playing Ravena? Of course not. The coaching staff would be foolish to do so. Does this mean Ateneo has to start playing slow? Also not completely true. Ateneo is among the best fastbreaking teams in the league (4th in fastbreak points per attempt, 2nd most in attempts). Does it mean Ateneo has to start playing fast? Also not completely true. Ateneo has to do a better job of balancing pace and efficiency — pace has a direct relationship with offensive efficiency and an inverse one with defensive efficiency. So what that threshold pace will be (that maximizes offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency) is up in the air but getting it just right will mean an even more dangerous Ateneo team.
(Update: just finished encoding ADU game last night. Numbers now show that Ateneo plays better with Kiefer (+3.2) than without him. If we considered the ADU game an outlier though, we’re good lol)
2. Arvin Tolentino, for all his warts on defense, is a monster rookie on BRP/Kiefer/Teng level. He’s the real deal and despite everyone complaining about every little thing about Arvin — from his shot selection, to his questionable effort on defense, to his lackadaisical screens and boxouts — he’s among the 20 best players in the league right now. Yes, I said it.
3. I love Newsome’s potential as a small ball forward (always have, always will). These are Ateneo’s top 5 most used lineups (6 games):
|Minutes||Points per 100||points allowed per 100||Eff Diff|
The Elorde-K. Ravena-Pessumal-Newsome-Tolentino lineup is Ateneo’s most used and second most effective lineup (2nd only when we replace Newsome with Gotladera, that’s a discussion for another time). The defense is bad – 95.9 points per 100 in a league where the average is right about 88? Nope, nope. But man, that offense. OH that offense. So many options to play around, layers and layers of options that can leave any defense in the dust. It scores at a rate that far exceeds UAAP norms (130.6 points per 100). Coach Bo has used that lineup most exclusively to close games (17:30 in the fourth) and it’s performed at just about the same rate (128.2 points per 100, allows 112.8 points per 100). The big problem with that lineup is defense. From what I remember, that lineup did “okay” at forcing misses. Their biggest problem was finishing defensive possessions. If they can just find a way to rebound, I think that lineup will be dynamite. My memory might be betraying me but despite that caveat, that lineup holds so much potential for the Eagles. I hope Coach Bo and Co. explore it more.
Ateneo now shares the top spot with the (impressive) Bulldogs. Ateneo has one game left this round (against the sliding Warriors) while the Bulldogs have a date with the Tams. We could very well end up with a 6-1 record. That puts us in a good position to at least get to the Final Four (nah we’re not getting to the Final Four *reverse jinx applied*). These Eagles are
not ready to fly high.
Featured Image by Philip Sison, Fabilioh