It’s no secret that Falcons captain Rodney Brondial and Roider Cabrera a good buddies even outside their Falcons brotherhood, that means they look after one another and boy did they!
With time running out, Parks just completed an and-one play to cut the lead to 2. Roider Cabrera was sent to the charity stripe to put the game out of reach. Cabrera missed his first shot- it’s okay, he can make it a three-point game. He misses his second- crap! Gelo Alonilo gets the pass from a floored Bobby Ray Parks, he runs the length of the court, he remembers the lead is 68-66, he spots a wide open Robin Roño at the right corner, he passes, Roño shoots – and misses. All the Adamsonians present in the MoA Arena breathed the biggest sigh of relief and cheered the biggest cheer they could.
Lucky for Cabrera who missed those free throws, his buddy Brondial, just a few possessions ago, made two big defensive stops- first against Parks, the second against Alonilo, swatting away their attempts, saving the Falcons from having to make another field goal to hold on to their lead.
In what looked like a looming melt down from the Falcons whose lead was stolen from them by the start of the fourth quarter, a reassuring calmness radiated from them. Instead of folding up and putting the load on their stars, they stepped up. Everyone did their part, stuck to their role and played like the contenders they want to be.
Review of the Keys to the Game
The Falcons did a number in containing Parks this game. Even if NU managed to get Parks the ball in most possessions, the Falcons defense was so stingy it forced Parks to have a horrible game from the field. Compare this to the Falcons offense, one that spreads the ball around, allowing almost all of their players to attempt at least a single field goal. This led to a great shooting game from the floor for Jericho Cruz who has just found his “J!”
|Bobby Ray Parks Jr.||30.8%||26.5%|
Looking at the numbers, Parks’ shots on the floor were very ineffective. He only converted roughly a quarter of his field goals into points, ultimately hurting his team. Cruz on the other hand played smart and chose his shots wisely, converting about two thirds of all his field goals.
No, the Falcons didn’t stop NU from finding Parks, but they made finding Parks less rewarding for NU.
Intercept those passes
The Falcons amounted only a total of five steals, but they did defend right, or at least right enough. The biggest factor was Sewa being there, able to rebound. Early in the fourth quarter when Coach Leo was forced to sit Sewa out, the Bulldogs had their way on the rebounds. What happened was that an NU player took a contested inside shot, then due to the absence of both Ingrid Sewa and Rodney Brondial on the court, Mbe or Parks got the rebound and just cleaned up the play.
When one of the two starting bigs of Adamson was on the floor, like in the last minutes of the game, NU had a lot of trouble scoring from inside, heck, scoring. After leading 63-60 and then finding themselves on the back end of a 8-0 run capped off by a Jericho Cruz mid-range jumper (which looks absolutely sweet now BTW), the only field goal they had was a Parks and-one off the fast break. Twice NU was turned away near the rim, one even on the fast break!
This key was all about reading NU’s offense and boy did the Falcons read them like a book.
Force another hero
With the game on the line, time running out and a chance to win it, the Falcons dodged a bullet in leaving Roño open in the corner for a three- or did they? When it came down to it, what was the better last second shot for NU at that time, the Alonilo drive or the Roño three? The Falcons played the percentages in that last sequence, and it paid off. Good thing it wasn’t Parks attempting that shot, good thing it was Roider Cabrera contesting that shot. Had it been just slightly different, I’d be writing a different article as well.
In the first minutes of the fourth quarter when NU held the lead against Adamson, it was Roño who was doing the damage against them. In those sequences, Harry Petilos was hounding Bobby Ray Parks, denying him even a look at the ball. This forced NU to look for other players to get baskets from other players.
Meanwhile, Adamson thrived with the idea that someone else other than Cruz or Cabrera had to score. Don Trollano scored 7 points for the Falcons, all in the fourth quarter, a much needed late game boost for them.
Back to Basics
Their offense was smooth as silk. No more standing around, a lot less isolation and a whole lot of confidence down the stretch. Not that there weren’t any bad moments, but how they reacted to broken plays was good. At one point Roider Cabrera was working off a give-and-go play from Brondial at the corner. He would have been pinned with the trap, had it not been for his pump fake, sending his defender flying into the barricade, opening him up for an easy three pointer. The biggest plays for the Falcons on offense was Jericho Cruz, driving and spinning into the lane for a layup followed by a fade-away jump shot. Both plays, despite being off broken plays, were very much in good rhythm. Both shots had only one defender sagging on him and had Cruz missed either of them, Sewa was clearly under the paint ready to rebound.
The only forced shots were at the end when they were running down the clock expecting to be fouled. This contributed in sullying their three-point field goal percentage which was a decent 31.6% for the game. Despite the low percentage, the good part of it was that they weren’t forced shots. Roider Cabrera shot an efficient 2 of 3, Cruz split his four attempts from beyond the arc while Trollano split his two attempts, and the rest of the team (except for Rodney Brondial who tried to shoot from long-range five times) attempted only a single three-point shot each.
Sewa vs. Mbe
Sewa was missing from the game most of the time, but what time he spent on the floor, he helped the Falcons a lot. A look at the end statistics can be a bit deceiving:
By simply looking at those stats, people might get the impressions that Mbe was all over Sewa this game and that Mbe had the better game due to the double-double. What they don’t see is how these stats contributed to their teams.
Ingrid Sewa was a black hole on the boards every minute he spent on the floor. What do I mean by this?
Whenever Sewa was on the floor, he was grabbing more than half of all the defensive rebounds available. This meant, for every shot NU missed, not only was it a Falcon denying them the offensive rebound, it was him denying them the offensive rebound time and time again. Mbe’s defensive rebounding percentage was less than half that of Sewa’s.
Even factoring in offensive rebounds, Sewa was still a black hole as he pulled in almost half of all rebounds that were available.
Stat-wise, Mbe wins this matchup, but efficiency and contribution-wise, Sewa takes this by a long shot.
Like the Falcons have been ever since S73, they are a team beaten only by themselves. If they play their game and play to their strengths, there is no team in the league right now that can actually stop them. The two losses they have had were a result of their own doing, the wins are also the result of their own doing.
Possibly a contributing factor to this win was the fact they had a long week to prepare for NU while the Bulldogs had to pick up the pieces right after their loss to UE. Whether or not this is a one shot deal or a sustainable game plan, we’ll find out come Wednesday when they play DLSU.
One thing is for sure at this point, whether they win or lose, it’s up to them. Whether or not they make it to the Final Four and beyond is in their hands.