Coming into this contest, the Tamaraws are the hottest team in the UAAP today as they carry a six-game winning streak with Ateneo Blue Eagles being their latest prey despite struggling offensively in the game. Against the Blue Eagles, FEU’s high-octane offense did not run as smoothly as it normally does, tallying only an offensive rating of 88.9 which is eight points below their average but still 11 points higher than UP’s production on offense in Season 78.
As for the Fighting Maroons, they would like to carry on the momentum they take from their win over Adamson as they make one grand pitch for a Final Four slot which is still within reach despite the five-game slide. Yes, believe it or not, the Fighting Maroons are still on it but they might need to sweep their remaining six games, including this one.
The first time these two teams met this season, UP were able to clamp on the FEU juggernaut for almost three quarters, disrupting the flow of their offense and forcing them to turn the ball over a lot. But FEU untangled the UP mystery late in the game as Roger Pogoy, Raymar Jose and Mike Tolomia collaborated to put on a majestic show on offense in the closing stages of the game, giving the Tamaraws a 75-58 victory.
For UP to stand a chance of pulling an upset against the scary good Tamaraws, they need to come up with a sound offense, aside from their sturdy defense. They need to veer away from a ton of isolation plays (mostly for Paul Desiderio) and go back instead to their offense which involves a lot of passes and cuts to free up their scoring wingmen in Jett Manuel and Pio Longa. Also, it would not hurt their cause if Henry Asilum will put on another efficient performance. Just to update, Asilum’s PER has now gone up to 9.1, coming from -0.2, after his huge output in the game against Adamson.