View from the Enemy: UP Fighting Maroons

With the Falcons mathematically out of the Final Four they have nothing to lose in their last three games. All they can hope for is to finish strong starting with a game against the winless Maroons.

There are no gimmes in the UAAP. Don’t let the record of UP fool you, those were all hard-fought losses that UP could just as readily have won. To become UP’s first win would be like becoming Ateneo’s first win in the season, just shameful.

Hopefully the six-game skid ends here, but it’s not going to be an easy battle as Jericho Cruz has been reported to be ill and is questioning his health for the next game.

Keys to the Game

Quick Attack

The Falcons’ offense works best when they attack quickly. Not that they have to go on the run, but rather to set up and start their offense quickly. The faster they move the ball, the easier the shots they make. I’ve noticed that this also makes up for the spacing problem. The less time they have to linger around and get pushed away from their position, the better their spacing becomes.

UP will come out of the gates with a ton of energy to start the game, so keeping them off balance will be key to getting good shots. Attacking quickly ensures UP’s defense will not be able to set up or react on time.

Double team

UP has good shooter – Marata, Ligad, Lao, Gingrich, among others, can all hit from outside. With the exception of Marata, most of them are pretty streaky. The goal on defense is for them to prevent open shots and probably double on shooters who try to use a pick and roll. UP averages 14.1 turnovers a game, 2.1 of which come from their leading scorer, Sam Marata, who is a good shooter from outside. The more turnovers they can force, the less attempts UP has from the field (duh?). Limiting their attempts also limits their chances of catching up or taking the lead because 35% of UP’s attempts are from downtown – they like to take the outside shot.

Center watch

Limit Sewa’s minutes. It’s tempting to keep him on the floor against Soyud and watch him go wild as his teammates continuously feed him the ball, but teams know that. They know he’s going to get the ball on the court, this results in them collapsing on him, taking him out of the game. The more minutes Agustin plays for the team, the better it will be for Adamson. Though smaller, Agustin is able to spread the floor and provide energy and hustle Sewa is often too tired to give. Not that Sewa will be ineffective against UP, it’s just a matter of keeping him fresh to bang bodies again.

Sewa might be able to dominate UP's big men but it will be wise to keep him on the floor in spurts (Photo credit: Jn Yvan Condes, The Adamson Chronicle)

Sewa might be able to dominate UP’s big men but it will be wise to keep him on the floor in spurts. (Photo credit: Jn Yvan Condes, The Adamson Chronicle)

Return!

Keeping player minutes low will be wisest for Adamson. Forcing one lineup to make something happen for long periods has not paid off yet. It’s often the special units or the bench players that do most of the damage. Switching players on the floor means switching styles and play as well, so when one line up hits a rut, the second unit can come in to try to change things up. This has always been a strong point of Coach Leo’s system, though not so evident this season. His lineups often go ten-man deep, with very little production lost on substitutions.

I choose you!

Decide whether to put in Cabrera or Trollano, not both at the same time. The two are great outside shooters for the Falcons but due to their similar play style, have been found to clash on the court spacing-wise. The two would sometimes pass the ball back and forth unable to decide who gets to shoot, only to heave a pressured shot thinking that the other one could have taken a better attempt. Keep them on the floor one at the time. Run the quick-gunning Cabrera on your second unit while Trollano on the first or vice-versa. They aren’t the Lozada-Alvarez one-two punch Adamson used to have, so only one at a time, please?

Final Thoughts

A game against UP is NOT a walk in the park. They are NOT to be taken lightly and I hope our team realizes this. We have already been the breakers of Ateneo’s losing streak, then of DLSU, then of UST, adding UP to that list would be just embarrassing. Right now that we’re playing for pride, embarrassment is the last thing we need.