View from the Enemy: FEU Tamaraws
Coming of an expected loss to the Bulldogs (with the condition that Kiefer was injured), Ateneo looks to bounce back against the FEU Tamaraws, who won against the UE Red Warriors in a comeback victory last Saturday.
Ateneo was bullied on the glass against NU – not only did Ateneo rebound just 59% of the misses they forced (when the normal rate is around 65%), they also rebounded only 31% of their misses (the normal rate is around 35%). This was a terrible rebounding team meeting a good rebounding team. Utter destruction.
Luckily, their next opponent is a team built almost exactly like this current iteration of the Blue Eagles – a team built on the perimeter. While NU had players who could rebound the ball well for their size and their position (Mbe, Parks, Javillonar), FEU has none of that. In fact, they lost the rebounding battle to UE, 26.3% to 34.5% (this is comparing offensive rebounding rates). This bodes well for an Ateneo team that starts Frank Golla and only has one good rebounder who can play (Newsome). Yes, even Hargrove, apparently is not a good rebounder (last season, his rebounding splits read 11/17/14).
Another good thing – FEU’s offensive attack begins on the perimeter. If you read my post game analysis last game, you’ll know where I’m going: Ateneo can limit FEU. Between Newsome, Elorde and Von, Ateneo has a plethora of wing defenders they can throw at the electric back court of Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia. If you know me, I’m not a homer. I love my Eagles but if the numbers and the analysis points otherwise, I’ll say it (see: NU win with an injured Ravena). I’m very, very excited to see how the coaching staff adjusts to a hobbled Ravena.
Keys to the Game
Pressure the Perimeter
FEU lives and dies by their back court. Here is a table detailing Romeo and Garcia’s offensive rating in wins and in losses. See the huge difference?
So it’s imperative to take both those guys out. Luckily, Ateneo has so many options to throw at them – you need Romeo to feel uncomfortable dribbling that ball? Put Elorde on him – that kid will press him 94 feet. You need someone to bother Garcia when he runs around those screens? Put Von and his lanky arms as a deterrent on those screens and challenge those shots well. You need someone to body up both these guys? Put Newsome on — he’s strong, physical and he’s quick enough to keep up with both those guys.
We limit both those guys (in terms of shot creation) and FEU’s entire offense crumbles. Without the other 3 defenders keying on FEU, they’ll be hard press to find another offensive option. Between Romeo/Garcia creating and Tolomia? Give me Tolomia 20 times out of 10 (yes, that was an exaggeration).
Into the Fence but not inside the House
Most of the good defense are designed to make you take a lot of midrange jumpers. It’s the least efficient shot in the game because not only is it harder to make (because it’s farther from the hoop), the odds of getting a foul go down and the odds of an offensive rebound go down (no numbers, just a generally accepted idea). This is why Ateneo was one of the best defenses last season (both on a per 100-possession basis and shot selection basis). We let them into the fence but not into our house. From there, we can just let the dogs eat them up alive. Again, luckily for the Eagles, FEU is a team that likes to take midrange jumpers. If Ateneo can goad FEU to taking a lot of midrange jumpers, that will be better. The big problem is how. Knowing how smart the Ateneo coaching staff is, I have to assume that they have something in store for us. FEU is also among the better three-point shooting teams in the league (both in terms of volume and percentage makes). So Ateneo can’t simply pack the paint or go zone (like they did against NU). They’ll have to come up with several clever tactics to prevent FEU from sniping outside the fence (or if you haven’t gotten the metaphor yet, prevent them from taking threes) and welcome them just enough into the fence to snipe there (while our dogs feast on their carcasses).
PLEASE PUT RYAN BUENAFE CLOSER TO THE BASKET
For the love of me, PLEASE PUT RYAN BUENAFE CLOSER TO THE BASKET. I’ve been harping about this since last season and it could not be more true –Ryan Buenafe’s passing works way better when he’s a threat. People don’t respect his perimeter game (and why would they? Buenafe’s built a fortress of his own with all the bricks he’s missed over the last three seasons). The problem is that Buenafe’s shooting form is REALLY inconsistent: he has a set shot (a shot where the feet barely leave the ground) and he has a jump shot. He uses them almost randomly – whether he’s jab stepping, on catch-and-shoots, off a screen, whatever.
He might work better in the post – where he uses his bulk and his frame to muscle his way to the hoop and either get an easy score, get to the line or get an offensive rebound. Does anybody remember that 24 -game he had last season? He was that productive because he stayed near the hoop where he grabbed five offensive rebounds. In a 4-out set (three guys located around the 3PT line, the other guy located at the opposite side elbow of the FT line), Buenafe’s superior passing will flourish when he’s a threat. I’d love to put him in ball screen actions (where he’s also quite adept at) but the temptation of him bricking another shot is not something I’m fond of. I would rather hedge my bets and place him in the post, even if it’s something he or the coaching staff are comfortable doing. We’re experimenting with everybody, so why not experiment with Buenafe in the post?
Hard to say, with the uncertainty around Kiefer Ravena. If Kiefer plays anywhere near 100%, I’m confident Ateneo wins this one. Ateneo’s team is a “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” kind of team. Without Ravena, the whole is suddenly much less than the sum of its parts. Weird huh?
I’ll go on record and say Ravena plays. He’ll play inconsistently – showing flashes of why I predicted him as MVP and flashes of a guy who can barely lift his foot. Between Elorde’s defense and Von’s long arms, at least one of FEU’s dynamic duo will struggle (probably RR) and that’s enough for the Eagles to eke out a victory.
Eagles win this in a tight defensive battle. AGAIN. Yes, that’s going to be a theme.