Considered by many as the favorites to win it all in Season 78, the Tamaraws made sure that their one-point loss against the UST Growling Tigers will be totally wiped off in our memory when they dismantled the DLSU Green Archers, highlighted by that mind-numbing 20-0 run in the third quarter. On the other hand, UP sustained its first loss of the season as they bowed to the still unbeaten Growling Tigers.
The Fighting Maroons’ much improved defense, allowing only 76.4 points per 100 possessions (second best in the league today), will be tested to its limits as they will face the squad that produces more than a century per 100 possessions, an astronomical mark in the collegiate level. The Tamaraws have plenty of options on offense, topbilled by Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo, and Raymar Jose who is putting on the best tito basketball you could witness in a youthful league. Even their subs like Roger Pogoy, Achie Inigo, Monbert Arong have proven to be headache for the previous three opponents.
For UP to stand a chance against them, they might have to resort to a slow pace, ugly type of basketball where scoring is secondary to defending — like the one we have seen in the UST game. Keeping this to a low-scoring affair is imperative for the Fighting Maroons. Outgunning the loaded Tamaraws is as impossible as stopping the #Aldub phenomenon. The three-point territory must be well-guarded as the Tamaraws can shock the opponents and pull away easily by lighting it up from the downtown at any given stretch of the game. Just ask Ateneo and De La Salle.
While the Fighting Maroons have to put a premium on defense in this game, their offense must be on A-game. Three games into the season, we have seen the evolution of UP’s offensive sets as compared to previous years, but they remained a below average team offensively (78.1 points per 100). Jett Manuel and Paul Desiderio, the two guys who are expected to lead the charge have been on and off. Diego Dario, arguably the most consistent player in the UP squad, will be once again put on the spotlight with his gutsy moves on the court. A little help from guys like JR Gallarza, Pio Longa, and Cheick Kone would also help UP’s cause to go back to winning ways.
TV: LIVE ON ABS-CBN SPORTS AND ACTION
TIME: 4:00 PM
VENUE: SMART-ARANETA COLISEUM
Featured image credit to Patrick Gunnacao