“Excellence in execution, the UP Fighting Maroons.” I always cringe involuntarily whenever I hear that in the introduction. How I wish there is at least a grain of truth in this audacious statement as they’ll be needing every ounce of that excellence, if it does exist in the first place, from now on. They’ll be pitted next against the defending champions (excellence in leadership) De La Salle Green Archers, who are coming to form lately after starting their title defense on a sour note.
Entering into this contest, UP have already piled up five losses in five games this season, with the last one came in the hands of UST Growling Tigers in another late-game collapse. On the other hand, DLSU just eked out their third straight victory at the expense of our dear brothers who are staying with us in the bottom, the Adamson Falcons.
The Fighting Maroons will be missing the services of their head coach Rey Madrid who was slapped with a two-game suspension for his controversial claims in the UST postgame interview. This means he won’t be calling the shots in the highly-anticipated clash against Adamson on Saturday.
Keys to the Game
KEEP IT UP FOR FORTY MINUTES
The inability of UP to play good basketball for the entire duration of the game has been pretty well-documented. They would light up in the early going but suddenly they wouldn’t show up any form of competence for the remainder of the game. If they have any desire to break this lengthy losing spell in UAAP which stands at 26 games (714 days now to be exact), they can’t and shouldn’t keep this trend going. They have to be competitive from the tip-off until the final sound of the buzzer.
But recent history suggests that we might witness the same UP collapse again. In their second round encounter last season, UP was leading for majority of the first half. But then Green Archers put up a sensational second half to topple the Fighting Maroons.
GET A FAIR SHARE OF REBOUNDS
This game features two teams in the extremes of the offensive rebounding department. DLSU clobbers a league-best 41.2% of the available offensive boards while UP’s rate at 22.8% is just slight above half of DLSU’s. While I do not expect that UP will win the rebounding battle, I am just hoping they’ll put on enormous amount of effort in grabbing the boards.
LEAVE THEM SOME SPACE OUTSIDE
DLSU are shooting notoriously beyond the arc this season, converting only 18.1% of their attempts which is league worst.. Leave them outside and give them the space to shoot from there. Averages are telling us that UP could be better off by doing that rather than allowing DLSU to take it inside which is a deadly proposition, considering the plethora of talent in their frontline.
Can we just fast forward to the Adamson game? The winning chances here are pretty slim to none. DLSU takes this one and extends their winning streak to four. UP register just another L and extends their victory drought to 27 games.