View from the Enemy: NU Bulldogs
The FEU Tamaraws are coming off an improbable overtime win against the DLSU Green Archers. They are now 4-0 and still on top of the standings. Morale is high, confidence is high. A start as good as the Tamaraws could’ve hoped for.
The NU Bulldogs are 3-1 in the standings, coming off a dominating win against the UP Fighting Maroons. Emmanuel Mbe and Bobby Ray Parks are two of the best players in the UAAP and will look to lead this squad to victory.
I’m really pumped up for this game. The two games between these two teams last year were decided by just four points and three points, both won by NU. The latter one being decided in an overtime thriller, a replay game result of the infamous overruled, last second layup by RR Garcia. FEU was the odd man out in the Final Four last year resulting from a three-way tie along with DLSU and NU. Being beaten on both occasions last year, having a win taken away from them, and giving them their first loss last season, the Tamaraws have every reason to be motivated against the NU Bulldogs. This game will not lack drama nor storyline and I can’t wait.
Keys to the game
Run and Gun Tams
The Tamaraws are at their best forcing turnovers and getting into fastbreak opportunities. In all of their games so far which turned into wins, fastbreak points and turnover points were key to their success. Also, Bobby Ray Parks is going to hound Terrence Romeo, and it’s a tough matchup even for the MVP frontrunner Romeo. ADMU’s Chris Newsome forced Romeo into a horrible shooting night and Romeo will probably get the same defensive treatment with Parks. Isolation basketball probably won’t be as effective against this team.
Control Batman and Robin
A big key to NU’s only loss this year was Ray Parks’ struggles on offense that game. It’s going to be a tall task but if you want to win, limiting Mbe and Parks gives you the biggest chance. Force players other than Mbe and Parks to beat you. I’m actually fine with double teaming Parks or Mbe to get the ball out of their hands and force NU’s role players to take shots.
Bait NU into shooting threes
The UAAP’s points-per-possession is around 0.9 . This implies you need to have a three point shooting average of at least 28~30% or else you’re better off not shooting the three ball. NU has been shooting the three below average (23.9% last year, 23.6% this year), even the talented Ray Parks just shot 28.8% last year. The only player that had regular minutes last year that shot well was Robin Rono (33.3%) and he’s been 0/5 this year from three and 0/6 from the field. Bait role players like Gelo Alolino and Geoffrey Javillonar into taking three ball attempts rather than giving Mbe postup possessions or Ray Parks causing havoc in the lane.
I think FEU is the more complete team right now. NU’s got some heavy artillery in the form of Mbe and Parks but their role players still have a lot to prove. I probably go with FEU, giving them a slight edge because of having better role players but I really think it’s going to be a close game and either team can win.