Not much to say since both teams are drastically different from what they were last season.
The Eagles sport a brand new spanking class of rookies, headlined by the one and only Arvin Tolentino and Thirdy Ravena. Both season previews are fantastic! (*pats himself on the back*). To have a read at ’em, here’s from my colleague, Toby Pavon, fantastic writer (and apparently future lawyer). His preview is short but it’s filled with important tidbits, key among them is the absence of an “import” to help bolster their roster. That’ll be big against an Ateneo team that’s not exactly bursting with size and strength from the inside.
Here’s my preview on the Eagles. It all starts with Kiefer – how he opens the season, how he responds to all the criticism he’s received from last year, the challenge of a new role as primary playmaker and scorer, et al.
What do I want to see from the boys this game?
I wanna see a lot of hustle early in the game. It tells me that they came in prepared, ready to demolish the competition. It tells me that they’re ready to strike. It tells me that they’re hungry and that they want to put last season behind them.
They’ll make mistakes through that hustle, maybe pick up a couple of silly fouls. It’s all right. What I want to see, something that I didn’t see a lot last season, is the DRIVE to go get it. We were playing injured last year, so it was excusable. No excuse right now to not play with hunger and to play as the team to be feared (not to be the team that’s afraid).
Last year, I mapped out, in excruciating detail, the offense that Coach Bo installed. Semantics aside (since I’ve never worked as a coach and have yet to pickup on the different terminologies they use), it was by and large a Hawk Set and Horn Set based offense. The Hawk set was a brilliant setup that allowed the offense to flow even without a devastating off-the-bounce scorer. (See: here, here and here). Personally, I believe it wasn’t the offense that Coach Bo wanted to implement. His most important offensive player was out early and he had to make do with what he had. We’ll probably shift away from the Hawk Set and move more into a Horn setup, in order to take advantage of Arvin’s high post/low post ability.
In any case, I’m excited. Watching the chess match of defensive and offensive implementations is one of the things (if not THE) I love most about watching basketball. Heard from a dependable source that Ateneo is going to make heavy use of the corners (EFFICIENCY PUNCH).
It’s on every Ateneo basketball fan’s mind right now. The year may seem like a blur to most of us, but remember — it was TWO years ago since Kiefer last played a great game (that Finals game). You know, the type of game that made everyone call him “The Phenom”, “The Blue Mamba”, “King Eagle” or whatever exaggerated nickname you may have thought off. I want to see a KIEFER game from the man himself. I want efficiency. I want movement with purpose. I want that swag. I want that post game that he’s been talking about.
I want it all. I want it all back tomorrow.
I’m going to say it’ll be an easy win for the Eagles. The first half will be tough (since everyone’s probably adjusting and still jiggering with lineups and what not). But Ateneo will pull away in the second behind a massive effort from Kiefer. Game. Set. Match.