Nobody had predicted that the UP Fighting Maroons, otherwise known as the greatest plot twisters of Season 78 so far, will finish the season with an unblemished record, right? We all know that it is an enormous task for them (and for any other team, for what it’s worth) to keep the streak going. As a popular song says, even the best (that is, the FEU Tamaraws) fall down sometimes. While it might be sad that their fairytale-like beginning to their season had to be shortened when they bowed to the UST Growling Tigers, dealing with this type of setback might proved to be beneficial for this relatively inexperienced team in the long run.
At the early stages of the game, the defense displayed by both teams was pretty spectacular that will make Detroit’s Bad Boys giggle had they watched this. The Growling Tigers were blitzing the UP ballhandler to disrupt UP’s offense that emphasizes a lot of passing and motion. Sheak Steriff was all over the court, hounding the Fighting Maroons with the ball while Karim Abdul was denying every attack to the basket. On the other hand, the UP was clogging the paint, forcing the Growling Tigers to take midrange shots. Due to the tenacity of both squads, the offense seemed secondary in the first half.
Second half was a different story. With the Growling Tigers sticking to blitzing, the Fighting Maroons managed to find the open man by swinging the ball really well and knock down the triples that they were not able to do in the early part. With the momentum swinging from UST to UP and back, the game could have gone either way. But Ed Daquiaog decided to take the matter in his own hands in the fourth quarter which propelled the Growling Tigers to the summit of the UAAP leaderboard with 3-0 slate.
1. UP are now playing legitimate defense.
In the past two games, we have witnessed the beauty of UP’s offense with their Horns sets and elevator plays. In this game where their offense was not at par with the first two games, it was their grit on defense that was clearly evident. The guards were scrambling for the ball, something that we did not see that much last season. They were trapping the ballhandler in some occasions. Help defense was pretty much solid throughout the game. Remember when the Fighting Maroons were the worst defensive team last season? Me neither.
2. Uh-oh, those late game execcutions
It is safe to say that UP’s lategame plays were not crisp. Jett Manuel‘s two three-point attempts, one of which came after a timeout, were uncalled for. Diego Dario gave a run for UST’s money with his gutsy performance in the closing games but it was not enough. Their head-scratching late game executions maybe attributed to their inexperience in close games
3. Ed Daquiaog is for real, finally.
We have seen the potential in this guy in the past years, but he was not able to fulfill this due to various reasons (injury, misfit at point guard position). With his size and speed for a two-guard, he simply made his way into the basket against UP defenders. He’s taking threes more confidently. With him, UST finally found a legitimate a go-to guy and perhaps an MVP contender.
Starters: Amar 6, Asilum 6, Harris 7, Juruena 7, Manuel 7
Subs: Dario 9,Desiderio 8, Gallarza 8, Lim 6, Longa 6, Kone 8, Moralde 7, Prado 5,Vito 6
This is the type of loss that UP can learn a lot from. Those mishaps in the early going and in the closing acts have clearly shown their weaknesses which they should address if they want to be a relevant force in the league. They may have lost in this game, but in the grand scheme of things, they won. Yeah, moral victory #1.
*with apologies to John Legend