I didn’t expect a shellacking. In fact, I was predicting a loss!

But we won, and I’ve never been happier in my life to be wrong!

Here are the standings as of the end of Last Wednesday’s games:

Team Wins Losses Games Behind Margin of Victory
FEU 8 3 48
NU 7 3 0.5 72
DLSU 6 4 1.5 38
ADMU 6 4 1.5 18
UE 5 4 2 -17
UST 5 5 2.5 -2
ADU 3 8 5 -48
UP 0 9 7 -109

FEU currently leads the standing but it’s fool’s gold – they’re tied with NU in number of losses. That (number of losses) is the more important number since you can only accumulate loss (i.e. get negative value) and not decrease losses (or get positive value). Wins work similarly (you can only accumulate wins, not decrease them). Hence, a team with more wins doesn’t necessarily mean they have an overall better record – it just means they have more wins. But a team with fewer losses means it can still get a higher record than another team with more losses.  In essence, if NU and FEU win their remaining games by the same number of total margin, NU will be the team on top.

What does this all mean?

Ateneo’s next game will be against La Salle – a team that’s right there in the mix. We’re not throughly into the playoff picture yet (with UE and UST still lurking in the shadow) but UE is probably going to miss Mammie (and Casajeros) while Karim Abdul and Jeric Teng from UST are not 100 percent. What this all points to is:

  1. NU’s next four games: UE (without Mammie and Casajeros), UP, La Salle and Ateneo
  2. FEU’s next three games: UST, Adamson, UP
  3. The Sunday game between rivals means more than just a rivalry game – it’s a game that actually matters in the overall scheme of things. Whoever wins that game, boosts their chances at a Final Four slot significantly. I’ve yet to develop a system to determine the probability of getting into the playoffs but even without a definitive number, the circumstances dictate that this win and the game against La Salle will be huge (not saying all the other games aren’t important).

If we are to make an assumption out of that pile, I’m going to go out and say that FEU has a better chance of posting a better record than NU (who still has to battle La Salle and Ateneo). Which means La Salle and Ateneo – if they can get a top two seed (which they can still do, by the way) – need to play their cards right to get the right match-up. Personally, I’d prefer FEU (NU’s size scares the bejeezus out of me), but that’s looking too far ahead.

Graphs, Tables, Numbers

Four Factors
Team Pace Rating eFG TOV% ORB% FTR
ADMU 87.6 93.6 43.0% 13.9% 31.1% 29.6%
FEU 87.6 83.3 39.1% 11.2% 20.0% 15.4%
 Game Flow
Ateneo

The game was pretty much in the bag.

Individual Offensive Rating
Ateneo

Tiongson had the most impressive line of the night.

Review of the Keys to the Game

Weather Forecast for Wednesday: Sunny

A check, with an asterisk. FEU attempted 31 threes – constituting 39.7 percent of their shot attempts. Not good. Or is it?

I decided to check back on all the three-point attempts by FEU – by my count, their were only 4~5 clean looks, and by clean look I mean the defender didn’t challenge at all or he challenged way after the ball left the shooter. That’s some pretty good stuff.

Some of you may be asking – but it’s still a three-point shot, that means it’s bad, right?

To a degree, yes. If we’d put a ranking on the type of shots you want opponents to NOT take, it would be something like: uncontested shots at the rim, uncontested corner threes (YUM!), uncontested above the break threes, contested shots near the  rim, contested corner threes, contested above the break threes then the rest of the mid range jumpers in some order (22~25 feet, 15~22 feet, 9~15 feet).

But, you have to remember, basketball is a two-ysided street: while your defense is geared towards opponents taking certain types of shots, the offense (or, the smart good offenses like FEU’s) are geared towards taking certain types of shots as well. Which means, if a team is seriously intent on making the best possible shot distribution, they can take fadeaway three-point shots as a last second heave option and their shot chart would look amazing in the process (and I still believe that is just a slightly worse shot than a semi-open midrange jumper).

The more important question to answer is: did Ateneo do the right steps to forcing FEU to NOT take threes?

For the most part, they did. Defenders stuck to shooters (for the most part) and the help came from the inside (weakside). I did see some miscues (like a help, from the strong side defender of a corner three shooter) or in two cases, both defenders of the corner shooter sagging off (luckily, FEU didn’t capitalize). But as a whole, it was a good night for Ateneo challenging shots. They weren’t able to force FEU to stop taking threes at a breathtaking pace (Romeo was content taking 26+, in-the-parking lot, in-your-face threes). But the good thing is: Ateneo’s “switch most screens” allowed Ateneo to challenge most of FEU’s threes stemming from dribble handoffs. 

I’d consider that a 60 percent win (if there was ever such a thing).

Wind Speeds for Wednesday: Slow

FEU scored 15 fastbreak points on nine fastbreak attempts. That’s a fastbreak efficiency of 1.7 point per attempt – not a good sign. But I’d put a big fat check yes to this one. HUH?!

If you dissected the game into quarters, you’d know that most of those came in the fourth – when the outcome was pretty much decided and Coach Bo deciding to go with his shock troopers -Capacio played seven minutes, Pessumal played six, Tolentino played five, Murphy played three, Ivan Enriquez, Asistio and Asuncion made cameos. FEU scored nine of their fastbreak points in the fourth (on five attempts). Take those out of the overall number and in the quarters that mattered, FEU scored just six fastbreak points on four attempts over three quarters. That’s practically one fastbreak attempt per quarter (the distribution was in fact two in the first, none in the second and two again in the third quarter).

Ateneo slowed the FEU fastbreak down without sacrificing their offensive rebounding (where there is usually a trade off). For once, PAG-ASA made the right call (you get the joke).

Ravena vs Romeo

Both players weren’t at the top of their game (Ravena still misses those damn free throws). But even then, Ravena comes out on top with a more rounded game than Romeo’s gun-slinging action (a trait you have to live with when playing/cheering for Romeo). Ravena scored more efficiently (41.9 TS% vs. 35.6 TS%), passed better (35 AST% vs. 16.8 AST%) and did more on the boards (6/17.6/12.4 vs. 5/9.5/7). Both players barely turned the ball over (Ravena’s TOV% is at 4.4 percent, Romeo didn’t turn the ball over at all).

Overall, Ravena produced 95.1 points per 100 (above average) as compared to Romeo’s inefficient 80.3 points produced per 100 (on a usage rate of almost 39 percent, I might add).

Did Ravena contribute to Ateneo’s win? Definitely.

Did Romeo contribute to FEU’s loss? Probably.

I will say this though – both guys seemed to be in a “who can take more bad shots” contest. Romeo takes the crown (he always does) but Ravena wasn’t far behind – midrange shots early in the clock, midrange shots over two defenders while fading away, just to name a few. If there’s anything I can say bad about Ravena’s offensive game, it’s his seeming dependence on his midrange game. I understand it’s a necessary part of being the focal point of an offense. But a midrange shot on a three versus four disadvantage with 20 seconds on the clock has no excuse (especially if said miss eventually becomes free throws for the opposing team on a fastbreak four seconds later).

Game Notes and Other Observations

1.

Wala naman silang ginawang kakaiba, konti lang sa depensa nila. Pero wala naman silang extraordinary na ginawa, basta nilaro lang nila ‘yung game nila. – Terrence Romeo via ABS-CBNnews.com

Terrence is right, Ateneo didn’t do anything different – we just did what we do. We switched a lot of screens (mostly ball screens between guards and handoffs.) We overloaded the strong side and we forced you guys to the middle, right in the smack of the help defense. We trapped hard on ball screens involving a big and a wing. All are things that the coaching staff has implemented since the first round. The good thing we did was we played our game and executed it well. Glad to see Ateneo’s hitting their stride at just the right time.

2. Ateneo winning this game wasn’t about us scoring the heck out of the ball – we scored 93.6 points per 100, right around the vicinity of our season average, which is 90 points per 100 possession. The most impressive part is our defense – we allowed the best (albeit volatile) offense in the league, a team that scored 95.2 points per 100, to score just 83.3 points per 100 – a figure lower than our season average defensive rating of 87.4 points allowed per 100. That’s impressive.

3. Key to all that is of course, Awesome Newsome – who hounded Romeo and Garcia to a brickfest and… VINCE TOLENTINO. Yeah, I said it. I’ve been impressed with the guy and I’m becoming more impressed with each passing game. Look at how he demolishes this possession almost single-handedly.

He stopped the dribble handoff (going under a very weak handoff), demolished the quick hitting pick-and-roll, recovering to the pop man and then challenging the shot.

And here he is again stopping the down screen for Romeo (giving Newsome enough time to recover) and then boxing out not one, but TWO rebounders in one position giving Erram the right amount of space to snatch the rebound out of nowhere.

I’ve talked a lot about different Ateneans – but I haven’t given Vince Tolentino his due credit. His offense may still be limited (he’s mostly been relegated to easy shots near the rim) but his defense is superb and his length, bulk and quickness are tools that he’s used to keep the bench’s defense afloat. I implore you, Ateneo fans, to give Tolentino the credit he deserves.

4. Tiongson had a GREAT game. (Despite his 3 of 6 free throw shooting. Seriously, when did our good free throw shooters become bad? LOL.) Whenever you score 20 points on just 10 shots, you probably had a good offensive game (which Juami had, producing 132 points per 100 on a usage rate of 22.7 percent). He’s slowly learning how to use his three-point shooting as a weapon not only to space the floor for his teammates but also to allow him to get by defenders (who are not sagging off him when he starts his action from the three point line).

5. This is the face of a guy who’s having fun playing basketball. THIS is why we’re watching this (besides the championships, the pride, the glory, the bragging rights, etc.).

Ateneo

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

6. On that note, let us pray for the continued health of our players. Erram had an injury scare late in the third. The doctors are saying he’s fine and that he didn’t check back into the game for precautionary reasons. Hopefully, he doesn’t get an injury because we need him.

7. Lastly, let’s give this guy the credit that’s long been overdue. People doubted him at the start (when I’ve been singing praises from the start). Now that the process he’s instilled is finally bearing fruit, we should give credit where credit is due.

Ateneo

Coach Bo has steered the Eagles to five straight victories. (Photo Credit: Raddy Mabasa, Fabilioh!)

There you have it folks, our next game will be against La Salle. I’m going to wear blue to the game (and so should you). A win there would push us above La Salle, not only because it pushes them down the standing, but also because it decreases their margin of victory (which could be the tiebreaker in case we get a tied record with them).