Just like Ricky Hatton in round two versus Pacquiao, the Tamaraws were left wondering: what the [expletive] happened? (Although Hatton’s first question might’ve been: where am I? Or what year is it?). The Ateneo Blue Eagles’ performance was also comparable to a perfectly executed bank robbery. Get in, get the money, get in the van, boom! It’s over. The Blue Eagles were out to prove they weren’t fooling around in this league. Tired of always being doubted as a contender, they showed the country what they could do when they’re at their best. Let’s breakdown what led to the 92-73 defeat.
What happened on the court?
On offense, the Blue Eagles were spectacular moving the ball around and being patient until they found the open guy. The ball movement was really amazing and it showed the unselfishness of each of the Blue Eagles (also showed the trust in each other).
Ateneo was running the break a lot and it contributed much to getting the big lead. For an FEU fan, what was most disheartening was ADMU making even the toughest contested shots, and they made a lot of them. Everyone for Ateneo got in on the act, even Tolentino and Golla who average a combined 5.4ppg, had 18 points collectively.
Defensively, Ateneo was really focused, showing quick lateral movement, good help defense and good closeouts. Coach Bo Perasol always stresses that ADMU primarily focuses on the defensive side and the results are beginning to show.
FEU’s defense at times was sluggish. They had a couple of mental lapses, leaving guys open and not knowing where to go on defense. They had some stretches where they played solid defense but in the end, ADMU’s focus was just on a different level.
FEU’s offense was struggling and players had trouble making shots. The offense at times would look stagnant and I think they lacked the dribble penetration they usually show in past games. But a big part of it was also ADMU’s defense which was air-tight. A lot of credit has to go to Coach Bo and his staff.
What happened off the court?
We weren’t able to match the energy level of Ateneo. We were thinking that it might be the effect of the double overtime win last Sunday.
Feeling ko, hindi pa nakaka-recover ‘yung mga players. I told the players at halftime to be honest with me. I told them, ‘If you are hurting or tired, sabi ko I won’t take it against you.’ I rather play other people. Hindi naman sila umamin pero it was very obvious.
That is why in the postgame (talk), it was still positive because everybody goes through it. Ang importante is how we can recover.
Ateneo was just on another level in their game vs. FEU. The difference in focus was probably because of the physical and mental fatigue caused by the double overtime game vs. UE. The FEU Tamaraws did not really look like themselves and looked a little tired in the game. As coach Nash said, the good part is that everybody goes through fatigue and slumps, but the important part is how you recover from it.
Review of the Keys to the Game
Shooting the ball
Going into the game, FEU was shooting 30.9% from three and 72.5% from the free throw line. Their shot was off once again as they shot 7/31 (22.6%) from three and 12/20 (60%) from the free throw line. A lot of the three-point misses were because of the lockdown Ateneo defense. The FEU coaching staff has to find ways to remedy this problem.
Good news is they kept their turnovers under their average of 13.1. They had 11 turnovers in the game. ADMU was just playing solid defense and rebounding the ball well.
FEU played sloppy transition defense at times. ADMU was solid running the break and finished with 11 fastbreak points. FEU had 15 fastbreak points but much of them came in garbage time when it was already too late to stage a comeback.
The Good Part
I like that FEU played seldom used players: Iñigo, Lee Yu, Luz, Dennison, Delfinado and Aguilon. The exposure given to them might help them in the end. Maybe not right away, they might be helpful in the Final Four but most probably will do most of their contribution further in the future.
Even though FEU was down by huge deficit (down 33 at one point) at certain points in the game, it looked like they were still fighting and were not ready to give up. They had great energy going out of halftime, creating an 8-4 run. They also gave a valiant fourth quarter effort, winning it 28-19.
The Ateneo Blue Eagles just had one of those amazing near perfect games, it’s hard to stop any team scoring and defending as well as they did. The good part is FEU will learn from games like these. Losing is a part of basketball. The greatest players and the greatest teams were molded by the countless losses they’ve suffered. The important part is to learn from them. It’s better to lose early than lose in the Final Four.
Schedule-wise, the remaining games will be against the bottom three teams in the standings. Even with that said, FEU can’t keep holding on to their fatigue excuse. FEU has to finish strong and gain some momentum.