View from the Enemy: Ateneo Blue Eagles
It was August 26, 2009. It was the second game of a doubleheader. The UP Fighting Maroons, still winless after three games, faced the defending champions Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles, who were off to a 3-0 start that season. Without any expectation from anyone, UP emerged victorious as they pulled off a sensational upset, 68-58.
The UP community went nuts with that victory, or so I believe. It was the talk of the town (err, campus) for some time. Even my professor in one class spared a few minutes of his 90-minute lecture to discuss the game. There were even jokes of putting up a bonfire, similar to Ateneo’s, on the famous Sunken Garden. It felt like we won the championship already after defeating the defending champs. One cannot blame us for celebrating too much as victories during that time, (and sadly, up to now), were few and far between.
Fast forward to 2013, things have changed, well not really. This game between the Katipunan neighbor is a battle between the currently seventh and eighth. The five-time defending champions Ateneo (1-4) have not been as invincible as they were in the recent years. Meanwhile, not much has changed for UP (0-4) as they have been perennial cellar dwellers in the team standings in recent memory.
In their last game, UP was not able to withstand the fourth quarter barrage by the National University Bulldogs in the 60-74 defeat. Meanwhile, Ateneo is coming from a 72-68 setback against University of the East Red Warriors.
Keys to the Game
Rebounds, rebounds, and more rebounds
I’ve stressing this key for the fifth time in five games. UP needs to rebound more. The entire team managed to rebound 44% of the available rebounds in their games this season. However, Ateneo is not really that far better with a 48% rebounding rate. What bothers me most is that two Fighting Maroons, Raul Soyud and Chris Ball, are both in the top ten in rebounding with 10 and 8.8 rebounds per game respectively. UP has been relying way too much in their two bigmen in the rebounding aspect as Soyud and Ball contributed 48% of the team’s rebounds. Other players have to help them in crashing those boards.
Coach Ricky Dandan has to admit that the team really misses Mikee Reyes. Reyes was their best playmaker as he loved piloting the team’s drive-and-dish motion in the first game of the season. The current point guards are really disappointing. The most experienced of them, Henry Asilum, is undergoing a sophomore slump. He’s not the point guard that we’re expecting him to be. Backup point guard Paul Desiderio is a little bit raw. While Jason Ligad has been channeling the Migs de Asis inside of him.
UP lacks playmaking abilities from their point guards. The Fighting Maroons have been averaging a measly 10.5 assists per game. Joseph Marata, the supposed gunner of this team, is leading UP in assists with 1.75 per game.
I have been lobbying for some time that Kyles Lao should take over the point guard position. I like the fact that Kyles is a fearless guard who attacks the basket and with that ability, he can set up their dribble-and-drive motion. I think its time to explore that proposition.
Stay away from threes
UP has already attempted 91 triples this season but they only managed to convert 22 of those. Setting aside that once-in-a blue moon 14-28 3PT shooting against DLSU, UP only converted 8 of 77 3PT attempts. There is no need to compute for the percentage because it is obvious that it is horrible. So please, in the name of humanity and our sanity, UP stop taking threes. Take the ball closer and attempt for more convertible shots. Do not settle for long bombs.
This will be easy. I’m calling for an Ateneo victory, though my heart really hopes for a UP win. Their sense of urgency for them to deliver is greater than UP’s. I expect Kiefer Ravena to play more minutes and produce better numbers this time as he is coming into playing shape. I am not expecting this game to be close. But then again, do not be surprised if UP pulls off their favorite trick: a late third quarter run when the deficit is already too large to mount.