Ugh.

I’ve been angry at him, frustrated at him, exasperated by him but never did I think I’d feel betrayed by him.

But I’ve also been happy and excited and glad that he’s on my team.

Yes, I’m talking mainly about Ryan Buenafe but to be honest, I was also talking about Kiefer, to a degree.

Ateneo didn’t really shoot themselves in the foot (not entirely, at least). NU did a great job of forcing Ateneo into their worst tendencies and their defensive system was executed well. Ateneo, on the other hand, saw their offense crumble to nothing. Their defense held solid – NU only scored about 89.1 points per 100, well below their season average. But as I said in my “mini” pre game, NU isn’t just a good offensive team – they’re also a pretty darn good defensive team. And they showed it – crushing a very specific Ateneo offense into oblivion.

Let’s look about the numbers.

Graphs, Tables, Numbers

Four Factors
Team Pace Rating eFG TOV% ORB% FTR
ADMU 78.5 89.1 41.8% 19.1% 26.8% 31.1%
NU 78.5 82.8 35.8% 13.6% 22.7% 25.4%
Game Flow

We never really got a chance

Individual Offensive Rating

That’s a pretty horrible chart, especially the last two bars.

Game Notes and Other Observations

1. It was pretty clear that Ateneo wanted to attack early in the clock. And they should – NU scouted Ateneo really well. On most of the sets (that I’ve explained in detail before), NU did what any good defensive team does – play on your opponent’s worse tendencies.

a. On ball screens, they hedged hard on the ballhandler. This puts the pressure on the screener to be a threat. As you can probably imagine, our bigs struggled making the right decision when the ball did come to them. Most of the time, the ballhandler just decided to stop and not pass (neutralizing all advantages that we get from the hard show) or pass to the opposite side.

b.Also, when it was Ryan Buenafe who was the screener (either in that double screen Horns set or just a simple ball screen) they would just do a soft hedge (i.e. the defender will not go all the way out). This allowed the Ateneo ballhandlers to pass the ball to Buenafe (again, the screener is given the responsibility of attacking the 4 on 3 situation) where he can theoretically attack off the dribble. The problem comes when Buenafe thinks he has space – and he jacks off a three. Now, Buenafe has been a “decent” three point shooter this year – hitting around 25 percent from downtown. I’ve understood how his shooting is important to a struggling Ateneo offense. The problem is when he starts taking them early in the clock — which he did in a handful of his shots (by my count it was 6. Internet has been crappy, that’s why Youtube uploads are coming slow. Sorry folks.)

c. Key in all this defensive attack is Parks and Mbe – both athletic and long freaks. Mbe, in particular, performed well in those hard hedge schemes because he’s so quick as a big and has such dexterity that he can smother a ball screen all by himself. It was beautiful (if you’re a fan of basketball) and frustrating (if you’re a fan of Ateneo) to watch. I was continuously asking myself: How is he there when he was all the way over there?

Those were just a couple of things that NU did to attack Ateneo’s offense.

2. Ryan Buenafe and Kiefer Ravena were just all kinds of awful last Wednesday. Early shots in the clock, horrible stepback/fadeaway attempts and horrible decision making when making passes. I mean, at one point, Kiefer did a 360 pass (i.e. he twirled 30 degrees and then passed). Kiefer was also too keen on getting his own. Instead of reading the defense, he was out there trying to score first then pass second. Overall both those guys played 30 and 24 minutes and produced just 47 and 34 points per 100 on 27.1 percent and 24.1 percent usage rates. FORTY SEVEN AND THIRTY FOUR POINTS. PER 100. WHILE USING MORE THAN 20 percent OF THE POSSESSIONS. ON MORE THAN HALF THE GAME.

A unique double face palm (Photo Credit: Google Images)

That’s Kiefer Ravena and Ryan Buenafe (Photo Credit: Google Images)

We can barely survive both of them playing bad – and I didn’t mean THIS bad, I mean 70~80 points per 100 bad. How the F are we supposed to survive both players playing THIS bad? Our defense was great and an average offensive output would have been enough to win us the game. But no, Buenafe and Ravena just had to play into NU’s strategy.

3. Speaking of which, Buenafe in the high post? Not the best idea (since you’re giving him the temptation of a jumper). The coaching staff did give Buenafe some touches on the block (scoring on one, passing well on two other possessions and a handful of bad passes and shots). It was supposedly a good decision – NU was content on sticking Khobuntin and Villamor on him, two lanky guys who don’t stand a chance at stopping Buenafe – and his massive frame (and weight) – from backing them down. But Buenafe just kept shooting us out of the game. I know, I know. Buenafe comes through the “clutch”. But I’ve never been a big believer of the difference between a shot in the first quarter and a shot in the fourth quarter. What I’m a big believer in is the difference between taking and/or making good or bad shots. You’re judged by that – whether it’s down two in the fourth or up 10 in the first. Buenafe, for all of his clutch plays and big games, is probably a net negative (not a huge one since he facilitates so much of our offense.)

4. Let’s give credit where credit is due – Porter played a hellacious game against Ravena. It was weird to see Ravena not attack the post with the same fervor we saw in his return and in the preseason. This was the perfect opportunity as NU was putting small guys on him – Rono and Porter. But he had just one postup possession – he passed out of it after Parks doubles on him. What’s wrong?

5. Parks scored 24 points on a TS% of 69.6 percent. Overall, he scored 131.5 points per 100. Those are GREAT figures. You’ll say that Newsome – Parks primary defender – played bad on defense. He didn’t. He actually played well (as he usually does). This is where I highlight the importance of putting these numbers into context. Good numbers don’t always mean bad numbers for the other (and vice versa). Newsome challenged a lot of shots from Parks. Granted, they were in rhythm, but Newsome made sure that there was a hand near the release point (or sometimes, even in Parks’ face) and a body between the hoop and Parks. Parks just made one difficult shot after another. Two contested three point shots. One circus shot, a couple other fadeaways. Newsome even had the time to be a help defender. Never judge a player by his numbers without context.

6. What is with Kiefer and fouling jumpshots? He’s done it against UE (Alberto), he did it against La Salle (Vosotros, I think) and he did it again against Porter. From what I can tell, he’s problem is that he’s flying towards the player instead of how he challenged them last year – controlled. Now, he jumps towards the player. Before, he just tip toes near them. I don’t know what prompted the sudden change but it has got to stop. They are called cardinal sins for a reason.

7. Frank Golla. Nuff’ said.

8. No, seriously, I hope the only reason the coaching staff is still playing Golla more minutes than Erram is his well being – he can’t handle more minutes than X, either because of his knee or because of his endurance. Because if the reason is “Golla is a better player, he’s a bigger player or he’s more experienced” I’m going to go all Chuck Norris on them. I think it’s pretty clear — Erram > Golla.

9. Ateneo actually had a chance to tie or win this game near the end, despite their bad offense. They just needed one stop. Down two, one possession game with 20+ seconds on the clock. A few moments later, Parks fires a bullet pass and Villamor hits a wide open three. He was so open he could give a flying kiss and still be open for the shot. You know who was at fault? Ryan Buenafe. This was the shot before Villamor cuts towards the left short corner:

(Photo Credit: ABS-CBN Sports/UAAP Sports TV)

(Photo Credit: ABS-CBN Sports/UAAP Sports TV)

The image isn’t clear but the lineup out there is Elorde (the small guy under the basket), Tiongson (guarding the guy with the pink shoes, Alolino), Newsome (guarding Parks), Golla (the fat guy guarding the big black guy) and then another fat guy with a number around 10~19 (you can’t make out the last digit here).  That’s Buenafe. He keeps on watching the scoreboard, never minding that Villamor (who he assumes to be stationed in the right short corner) has made a baseline cut to the opposite side. Here he is caught in the act.

(Photo Credit: ABS-CBN Sports/UAAP Sports TV)

Buenafe’s face was staring at the scoreboard. (Photo Credit: ABS-CBN Sports/UAAP Sports TV)

First question: Why was Buenafe in the game? Pessumal would have been a better option, right?

Second question: What was Buenafe doing staring at the scoreboard? I can understand staring at it once (to check the time and if they have enough left to get a shot of). But twice? The picture above was his second time staring at the scoreboard. UGH.

Biggest blunder in the game not because of the moment (fourth quarter, down two, 26 seconds left) but because of the sheer stupidity and lack of focus on this play. There was no set play to confuse the players – no screen the screeners, no misdirections, NOTHING. This is an inexcusable lack of focus. It’s what got me so mad after the game. IN A CRUCIAL MOMENT, HOW CAN YOU MISS A GUY JUST SIMPLY CUTTING TO THE OTHER SIDE?! HOW?!

I’d actually posit that Villamor’s cut was merely to act as a way to space the floor for Parks. His defender should follow him in his path. After which, Parks will simply just attack to his left side with Buenafe still moving in position to defend both the Parks drive and Villamor. This would be a different case had Villamor been in the left corner since the start – Buenafe would have, theoretically, been in the right position from the get-go.

But NO, BUENAFE JUST HAD TO STARE AT THE SCOREBOARD. BULLET PASS. SWISH.

UGGGGHH

The Final Four is still pretty much in our hands, regardless of the results on the UST-La Salle game. Here are the scenarios:

If UST wins, we’ll have to win against them twice to get to the Final Four (one is to tie the record, another is for the playoff match).

If UST loses, we’ll have to win against them once to get to the Final Four.

Between FEU, La Salle and NU, I hope FEU gets the top spot – I want to avoid La Salle and NU as a Final Four matchup.