View from the Enemy: Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles

Four games into the season and we see a team that’s struggling to find a consistent ground – inconsistent player performances, starting slow or finishing weakly, suspensions and injury among others. Field that team against the five-time defending champions who just got their first W for the season after a series of difficult games and injuries and we’ve got ourselves a problem.

The UE Red Warriors (1-3) will be going against the Ateneo Blue Eagles (1-3) this Wednesday (July 17) at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Keys to the Game

Limit Newsome and Buenafe = Guard the paint
Unpredictable Buenafe, how will the Red Warriors contain him? (Photo Credit: Roy Afable, InterAKTV)

Unpredictable Buenafe, how will the Red Warriors contain him? (Photo Credit: Roy Afable, InterAKTV)

Most of Ateneo’s production (save for the last game against Adamson) comes from Newsome and Buenafe’s ability to create shots for themselves by driving and maneuvering the ball in the shaded area. These two are creative enough in getting to the basket and Mammie, Santos and Javier will be responsible for limiting them.

Buenafe is usually unpredictable when it comes to perimeter shooting but the Red Warriors definitely do NOT want him getting a hot hand, especially when Juami Tiongson is slowly climbing back to his Season 75 numbers.

Exploit the lack for a big man
Ateneo's missing their big men and UE's got Mammie. (Photo Credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo)

Ateneo’s missing their big men and UE’s got Mammie. (Photo Credit: Juan Benjamin Janeo)

Ateneo’s constant struggle is the lack of a skilled big man to battle for boards, protect the paint and block shots. With Mammie coming back in for this game, the Red Warriors will have the advantage at the C position against Ateneo’s Frank Golla. Mammie just needs to display the same physical intensity and level he’s been playing at for the first three games. He also needs to contain PJ Erram (who had a good game against the Falcons) and prevent him from scoring via putbacks.

He also has to improve when it comes to converting those rebounds into points – something he’s struggled to do for the past three games. He’s getting better at it and hopefully, the advantage coming into this game will position him for a better performance.

Start strong, then sustain

The Red Warriors have this habit of starting slowly (feeling the game?) and then running like hell on the second half, chasing points for the big comeback. This was their story most of the time. Sure, it made for a better storyline – first half underdog takes the W home.

However, with Ateneo adjusting to the absence of King Eagle Kiefer Ravena, you can expect them to continue running their sets beautifully. If the Red Warriors played the same story, they might find themselves buried under points and find it harder to bounce back since they don’t really have creative offenses that are hard to defend, even with Roi Sumang’s second-game-heroics. They need to start strong and maintain it until the end.

Both the Red Warriors and the Blue Eagles are frustrated after all the losses they’ve encountered in their past games. Who will emerge victorious in this match-up?