View from the Enemy: FEU Tamaraws
Ateneo, armed with a four game winning streak, will face the top seeded FEU Tamaraws in a head-to-head matchup between Terrence Romeo and Kiefer Ravena. These two teams have a history more recent than the UST Growling Tigers – they met in back-to-back Finals in Season 73 and Season 74 – where the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles dispatched the Tamaraws in two games each trip.
Coming into Season 76, no one had any clue how FEU would turn out – new coach, departing players and a storyline that never really had serious legs (Romeo vs. Garcia). They’ve proven all doubters wrong and now hold an 8-2 record with four games left on the docket. Despite losing two games to open the second round, FEU is still among the best teams in the league – their volatile offense capable of decimating a team to shreds.
Unlucky for them, Ateneo’s one of the few teams capable of defending FEU’s high powered duo of Romeo/Garcia (and a tertiary creator in Tolomia). Between Ravena, Newsome, Pessumal and Elorde, Ateneo has a slew of perimeter players (each with diverse defensive ability) they can throw at both players. Who comes out on top between these two will come down to this.
Keys to the Game
Weather Forecast for Wednesday: Sunny
As I’ve stated in my most recent article for GMA News Sports Online, the Tams are very dependent on the three point line. In two losses this season, FEU shot 10 out of 39 from deep (25.6 percent). In eight wins, they shot 75 out of 231 (32.5 percent). Needless to say, they’ll take threes and make it rain from long distance, from the parking lot or from the airport. The key is for Ateneo to balance “helping” with “sticking to your man”. Ateneo will probably continue to switch on screens so that even the smallest openings aren’t present. Ateneo must make the forecast on Wednesday sunny and bright.
Wind Speeds for Wednesday: Slow
Adding to FEU’s ability to drain some threes, they’re also very capable of attacking the break. Because of the multitude of ball handlers they employ (MRT + Pogoy and Inigo), you’ll constantly see them push the issue when they get rebounds. FEU combines both volume – they score the second most highest fastbreak points per game – and efficiency – they have the second highest fastbreak points/attempt ratio.
If Ateneo wants to win this Wednesday, they better keep FEU’s fastbreak attack in check – which is great and all seeing as this is Ateneo’s game plan (they allow the second lowest fastbreak attempts per game, allow the second lowest fastbreak points per game and second lowest fastbreak apoint/attempt ratio. This will be an interesting matchup, to say the least.
Ravena vs Romeo
These two exchanged some pleasantry on twitter just before their game. They know they’ll be tasked to carry their teams to victories. Both are talented scorers who get their fair share of points from a variety of ways – Romeo with his ice skates and his almost unconscious desire to take threes and Ravena with his leakouts and assaults at the rim. They’re also good defenders who generate a lot of steals.
The key will be who gets to impact the game more both offensively and defensively. Romeo will probably guard Ravena when the two share the floor but I don’t think the case will be the same the other way around (with Newsome probably being assigned to defend Romeo). No matter who defends them, their impact will largely determine who wins this game (barring some WTF game from some role player).
Hard to do a prediction on a game of this magnitude. I’ll say the Tams win this in a close game.
Tamaraws win with a margin of 3+