It was not that long time ago in Season 78 when UP Fighting Maroons and NU Bulldogs were located on the opposite ends of spectrum. The defending champs opened their title defense with three consecutive setbacks while the Fighting Maroons surprised everyone as they blazed to 2-0 record. As they face off this Saturday, the two squads will try to outdo the other keep at bay with the leaders.
With a two-game skid under their belt, the Fighting Maroons aim to return to winning ways but it will definitely be a tall order as they face the Bulldogs squad that are finally coming to their form.
Defense will be the main ingredient of this affair as it features the two of the best defensive teams currently in the UAAP, with Fighting Maroons remaining number one (despite the FEU onslaught in their last game) with a defensive rating of 80.9 points per 100 posessions while the Bulldogs are limiting their opponents to 81.9 per 100.
UP will have to put a premium of their defense to the two NU main men in Alfred Aroga and Gelo Alolino. Aroga has been nothing less than stellar this season for the Bulldogs as he sports a PER of 28.1, fifth best in the league. UP’s bigs will have to figure out how to contain the Season 77 Finals MVP as he has an array of post moves and has a quick first step that he uses to blow by his defenders when he is outside the paint. On the other hand, Alolino, while he is not the quickest and most athletic point guard you’ll witness in the UAAP, is smart and crafty enough to create scoring opportunities for him and his teammates.
As for offense, UP will be as unpredictable as they had been in the first four games. Gelo Vito may erupt and launch a flurry of Jamal Crawford-like threes again. Diego Dario might come up big despite his small frame. Or it might be the streaky Jett Manuel, who uses a league-high 34% of the team’s possessions.
TV: LIVE ON ABS-CBN SPORTS AND ACTION
TIME: SEPTEMBER 26, 2:00 PM
VENUE: MALL OF ASIA ARENA
Featured Image credit: Mark Cristino, Pinoy Exchange