The two teams experienced similar fourth quarter blues in their respective losses last Wednesday. The Fighting Maroons got knocked down by an onslaught in the form of FEU Tamaraws in the final 12 minutes of their battle. On the other hand, the Red Warriors were put off by the DLSU Green Archers who turned it on late in the game.
In their first round matchup which was the opening act of Season 78, the Fighting Maroons managed to hold on despite a late UE surge to kick off their campaign on a high note. One particular guy UP had to thank for that win was Gelo “Jamal Crawford” Vito who knocked down all his three kissed-by-the-angels-in-the-sky triples during the final stretch where UE mounted one big comeback. Sadly, Vito has not been a reliable option for the Fighitng Maroons since that great outpour. He has only taken eight triples, making only three in eight games after that performance. His playing time has decreased as the season progresses which can be attributed to the stellar play of the newbies.
One of Gelo Vito’s threes in UP’s first round game against UE // Gnoe Gagallo, Youtube
As always, battling UE means being engaged to a frenetic pace of a game and encountering a barrage of fullcourt traps. The Red Warriors always seems to find their way to gravitate their games towards fast-paced action as they are currently sporting a league-high pace of 87.5 possessions per game, the highest mark by a team since Season 74. Meanwhile, their fullcourt pressure have also stymied the offense of their opponents. UE currently forces their opponents to an extremely high turnover rate of 27.1%. As seen on their first round encounter, UP had difficulty in setting up their offense when the Red Warriors finally unleashed the suffocating fullcourt press.
Despite UE’s lack of size and heft with the departure of Charles Mammie and Moustapha Arafat, they managed to get a fair share of boards this season. They are currently averaging an ORB% of 35.9%, a shade above the league average of 34.2%. The battle of the boards must be one thing that the Fighting Maroons should put a ton of effort on as they got clearly whacked by UE in the first outing despite having a plethora of bigs.
The battle of tremendous scorers from the two sides will be one of the plots worth watching in this match. Once again, Paul Desiderio will be the main man for the Fighting Maroons. He may not be that efficient (38.4% true shooting) but once he imposes his will on offense and take over, UE might not stand a chance. On the other hand, Edison Batiller has been putting up incredible numbers in his maiden season (23.7 PER, 11.1 net rating, and 25.4 AST%). The Red Warriors will be needing every ounce of his contribution in this game, as it has been the case throughout Season 78.
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|TIME: 2:00 PM|
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