View from the Enemy: UE Red Warriors

Just three days after getting their first W of the season, the Ateneo Blue Eagles are at it again against their neighbors in the standing, the UE Red Warriors.

Both these teams are gunning for a win using a different gunpowder (or motivation). Ateneo is probably hoping they can go into their match against last year’s runner-up, the UST Growling Tigers, with a 3-3 slate and a 3 game winning streak at hand. That means they’ll need to win against UE and UP – both teams are below the standings in both the win-loss column and from a net efficiency stand point. With Ravena inching his way back to peak form, these next two teams will be a great way to ease him back (since we won’t be pressured to play him as much).

The UE Red Warriors, on the other hand, are hoping to salvage a horrible start after being crowned as preseason champions, in the FilOil Preseason and in the eyes of coaches. Their defense is collapsing and their offense has been a mess despite Roi Sumang’s best efforts (28.4 PER).

Keys to the Game

Roi Sumang

Ateneo’s attack both offensively and defensively should be to attack Roi Sumang at all fronts. Offensively, they should look to involve Sumang in as many body-bumping instances as possible. Run Juami through as many screens as possible or whoever Sumang is guarding in the guard lineup. If a switch happens and Sumang is matched up with the big man, you post him up. All of this is to tire him out.

Defensively, ideally you put different defenders at him at different times of the game. Luckily for Ateneo, we have three different but equally abled defenders in Newsome, Elorde and Pessumal – different strokes at different times. Start the game with Elorde on him and make him press Sumang full court — that’ll tire the guy out for sure. Put Pessumal in midway through the game to bother his shots when he starts settling for those (once he’s tired out from the press, the screens, the postups and what not) and then finish the game with Newsome on him to give him a little bit of both Elorde (physical) and Pessumal (long). You can even put Capacio on him, who’s quietly becoming a defensive specialist.

Attack the Ball Screens/Pull Mammie out of the paint

Ateneo’s sets involve a lot of off-ball screening: down screens, staggered screens, flare screens and sometimes even some back screens. Most of them, however are used to create an open shot from the outside (except for the back screens, which is usually used for a postup). That isn’t taking advantage of UE’s biggest weakness – their inability to defend the paint.

Season Rank (ATR FGA) Rank (ATR FG%)
Season 75 3rd (34.4 attempts) 2nd (52.5%)
Season 76 (four games) 3rd (33.3 attempts) 1st (55.6%)

The problem all starts when UE defends a ball screen – Javier and Mammie aren’t really great at either hedging or zoning off in a ball screen. UE doesn’t have any credible shot blocker outside of Mammie. That means if you involve Mammie in a lot of ball screens, not only will Ateneo guards get a good shot at turning the corner or splitting the pick (where Juami is getting increasingly comfortable) thereby exploiting UE’s weak interior defense (which will lead to easy at the rim shot, better and more offensive rebounding opportunities and more fouls which will lead to more free throw attempts) but also pull Mammie all the way out to the perimeter. It’s like hitting a flock of birds with one stone.

Buenafe and Erram will be key to the rebounding battle (Photo Credit: Philip Sison, Fabilioh)

Buenafe and Erram will be key to the rebounding battle (Photo Credit: Philip Sison, Fabilioh)

I feel like a broken record at this point but, yeah. Good thing:

 I was able to interview Ryan briefly after the game, and he mentioned in passing that he was a lot more concerned about his rebounding than his assists. He said that he wants to be a consistent rebounder, probably because he knows the Ateneo ‘big men’ aren’t particularly great on the boards.

Of course the best part was that Ryan was wearing SHADES during the interview. it was around 8:00 in the evening. INSIDE the Mall of Asia Arena.

Ryan wins.

Camille Naredo


That’s great because Ryan Buenafe has been a BEAST on the glass (particularly on the defensive glass), where he’s rebounded 25.8% of the available defensive rebounds. Overall, he’s rebounding excellently and I have no doubt that Buenafe can sustain some form of this type of production.

The question is: Can Erram play? Because he’s one of our better rebounders (splits this season: 7.4/25.8/16.7. Splits last season: 21.6/23.2/22.5). If he can play around 15 minutes per game (despite the still not 100% knee), then I’m good.


Simple – Ateneo wins this one. UE simply has no sustainable system (if you want to count their “chaotic” dribble drive offense as a system), no personnel to support Sumang (outside of Mammie) and no bigs (outside of Mammie).