After being drubbed by the UE Red Warriors in their first game, the UP Fighting Maroons would like to brush it aside and move forward as they square off with the NU Bulldogs on July 19. This game is a test of character for the Fighting Maroons. That is whether they will rise up from the ashes and get back, or they will crumble again and sink deeper early on to the season.

Meanwhile, the NU Bulldogs began their Season 77 and post-Bobby Ray Parks era with a resounding victory over the UST Growling Tigers. Their defense was impressive, to say the least, as they allowed the Growling Tigers to a measly 40 points in four quarters. UST’s frontline of Karim Abdul, Aljon Mariano and Kevin Ferrer struggled mightily against Alfred Aroga and company, combining only for 25 points with a true shooting percentage of 29.1.

UST frontline vs NU Points 2PT FG 3PT FG FT

Karim Abdul

11 4/13 0/2 3/7

Aljon  Mariano

10 2/12 1/2 3/4

Kevin Ferrer

5 1/5 0/4 3/4


26 7/30 1/8 9/15

With NU, UP is being presented to a somewhat similar opposition to UE, yet deeper and arguably better. Like the Red Warriors, the Bulldogs have an elite point guard in Gelo Alolino, and massive inside presence in Alfred Aroga, Troy Rosario, and Henry Betayene. Add to that, they have an upcoming shooter in J-Jay Alejandro and YOLO players in Kyle Neypes and Glenn Khobuntin. Alolino led the league in assist percentage last season (32.1 percent). While he is known for his crafty playmaking, he can also lit up the scoreboard occasionally. Like what he did against the Fighting Maroons in the first round last season. With the departure of Parks and Mbe, it is expected that Alolino will take a more significant role, scoring wise, for the Bulldogs. Aroga and Rosario will present a matchup nightmare for the Fighting Maroons as both are solid players on both ends of the court.

Gelo Alolino of NU Bulldogs led the league in AST% last season with 32.1%. (Photo Credit: Mark Cristino, PinoyExchanfe)

Gelo Alolino of NU Bulldogs led the league in AST% last season with 32.1%. (Photo Credit: Mark Cristino, PinoyExchange)

Keys to the Game

Capitalizing from turnovers

The Fighting Maroons forced 28 turnovers against UE in the previous outing, which is a massive number. They managed also to collect eight steals which could have instigated eight fastbreak opportunities for them. However, they were not able to capitalize from these extra opportunities, scoring a paltry four points off turnovers. With NU’s stifling defense, UP might have a hard time finding scoring chances. So whenever they force an NU turnover, they must seize the opportunity to score.

Unleash Kyles

I’ve said this last season. I can’t believe I am saying this again — Kyles Lao should be given more playing time. Probably around 30 minutes.  And he has to play in the crucial moments of the game, not in the garbage time when the deficit is already insurmountable and his teammates have already given up. I can give you a thousand reasons (exaggerated of course) why he should play for every one reason why he should not. If there’s one guy in this team that deserves playing time the most, it’s him. No question on that. If you beg to differ, I am asking you to watch the game against UE.

Would the veterans please stand up?

I am talking to Mikee Reyes, Mark Juruena and to certain extent, JR Gallarza. I am not calling them out (NOT YET), but I am just reminding them that as the elder players of this team,  they have to step up. UP can’t afford bad games from them. In the first game, the three veterans  combined for seven points with an effective field percentage of 10 percent.

vs UE Points 2PT FG 3PT FG FT

JR Gallarza

5 0/2 1/4 2/2

Mikee Reyes

2 1/11 0/1 0/0

Mark Juruena

0 0/5 0/2 0/0


7 1/18 1/7 2/2

I was cringing while typing those numbers. I wanted to hide under my blanket and lie in a fetal position.


I am expecting that a different UP, unlike the one against UE, will show up this time around. One that would compete on both sides of the court for four quarters. I hope that their performance last game was just an aberration. We all know they can’t be that really bad.

But to ask for a UP win is too much. This NU squad is a solid one that I am even considering them as the dark horse of this season. At the end of this game, NU remains unblemished while UP’s UAAP losing streak extends to 23.