As quickly as the Falcons blitzed through the first half to get a one-point lead, the UE Warriors came back in the second half with a vengeance and dropped two 30-point quarters on the hapless Falcons.
Against Ateneo, the saving grace was at the end. This time it came early, then left for the winter.
The Falcons were able to stagger and shock the UE Warriors in the first half by outrunning them from basket to basket. They ran after every rebound, they ran after every steal, they ran, ran, ran and ran. Unfortunately the halftime break is ten minutes spent inside the locker room where both teams could reflect on what troubled them, so UE’s coach Derrick Pumaren was able to settle his boys down and get them back on track. Coach Kenneth Duremndes might have continued to egg-on his boys, asking them to keep up the hustle and keep doing what got them the tiny lead, but he must have known better.
Anyone who was in the Falcons dugout must have had only one thing in mind, “brace for the worst.” UE was too well coached to sit there and let Adamson run away from them. They cleaned up their act and started forcing Adamson to play a game they couldn’t win, the halfcourt game. The Falcons couldn’t execute on anything in the halfcourt. Making matters worse were Charles Mammie and Moustapha Arafat who rewarded the Falcons’ drives with crisp-clean swats. When the Falcons couldn’t run, the Falcons couldn’t score. When the Falcons couldn’t score, they couldn’t keep the game close, and so UE just ran away with the win.
Review of the Keys to the Game
Coach Pumaren took care of this for the Falcons. The big bad Charles Mammie only had 6 points and 6 rebounds throughout the game. But it wasn’t because the Falcons stopped him in any way. Mammie didn’t get his usual playing time getting only 14 minutes on the court. This explains the far from 20-20 performance UE fans have gotten used to, but don’t dismay. Moustapha Arafat filled in the Mammie void with 6 more points and 9 rebounds. Coach Pumaren chose to field the rookie for longer stretches, giving him 22 minutes to create hell for the Falcons.
Ivan Villanueva, who was the leading candidate to “eat Mammie”, came out rather flat. His shots weren’t dropping both inside and out while he wasn’t able to get many rebounds, finishing the game with only one. He could not beat Mammie when he was in the game and he couldn’t exploit the absence of Mammie either.
The Falcons shot worse from the outside this game but a lot better from inside with good reason. Among the offensive sets the Falcons look to run in the halfcourt are horns plays with the double screen and a 5-out set. The problem with both of these sets is that they rely on on-ball protection and screens. Off-ball, nothing happens. There was one instance when Iñigo was able to hit a teammate in the corner for an open three, but it was so stagnant and out of rhythm that he was better of just taking it to the hoop. The Falcons only made 3 of their 11 attempts from outside. Seven of the attempts came in the first half when they were still outrunning UE, hitting only one of them. In the second half when they were forced to look for any kind of halfcourt offense, they shot 2 of 4 from outside. Had they maybe attempted more with that kind of percentage, maybe they might have gotten some space inside.
UE on the other hand took them to the cleaners and dropped 10 of 26 from outside, which was their answer to the Falcons putting on a 2-3 zone whenever they weren’t pressing fullcourt.
When they ran, they were competitive. In the second quarter when the Falcons went on their exciting run against UE, they forced the Warriors to cough up the ball six times. They went on two fastbreaks and scored on both of them. This got the Falcons easy scoring opportunities with both Arafat and Mammie not yet in position to defend the paint. With each missed shot by the Warriors, the Falcons just pushed the ball up hard and fast to score before the bigs were anywhere near them. This is what got them the 6 of 13 shooting from inside and more importantly, 12 trips to the foul line.
Right after the halftime break, the Warriors turned the tables of the Falcons, slowing the game down and taking care of the ball. The Falcons were the ones who were dazed, turning the ball over five times, unable to connect in their halfcourt sets. UE denied every entry pass, clogged every drive attempt and intercepted the kickout passes the Falcons tried. They couldn’t find any offense other than running to the basket but even then, UE wised up and started anticipating the drive. Without any other weapon, the Falcons steadily succumbed to the huge lead padded on them by the Warriors.
In the Ateneo game, they showed they knew how to adjust and hold their own in the second half. This game, they showed they can shock an opponent and get them on their heels even if for just the first half. The coaching staff somewhat did their homework. They found out what UE liked to do and prevented them from doing it in the first half. Unfortunately their mid-game adjustment and rawness showed in the second half. When they couldn’t run, they didn’t have a player to turn to. They likewise couldn’t run any plays to open each other up.
Adamson has to take a page from UE in the matter of assists. UE totaled 21 assists at the end of the game, this meant they knew how to move the ball, not only to get open, but to get good shots. Adamson has a long road ahead. Their offensive system is too simple and easily defended. Their defensive schemes are too simple and easily taken apart. While the players have much maturing to do, it’s because they’re young and young players are a fact of life in the UAAP, but the coaching staff has even more maturing to do. Unlike players, coaching staffs do not have age limits nor any kind of impediment to experience. The players are unprepared because they’re young, what’s the coaching staff’s excuse?
The low blow cheap shot by Joseph Nalos on one of the UE players is unbecoming and unsportsmanlike. That is not how Adamsonians roll.