The UP Fighting Maroons’ dreadful and nightmarish 2013 campaign could be 40 minutes of lackluster basketball away from being an exact replica of 2007 and 2010 (yes, those 0-14 seasons) as they slug it all out against the UE Red Warriors in their final assignment of the season.
Coming into this game, UE managed to carve out a 17-point win over Adamson in their last outing despite missing the services of their superstar point guard Roi Sumang and his mythical sideburns. Meanwhile, UP was unlucky in their thirteenth game as they were trounced by Final Four-bound FEU Tamaraws by a whopping 24 points.
In their first round clash, it was probably the best chance of Fighting Maroons to snag a W as they engaged UE to a very ugly and low-scoring affair. But due to their lapses in the closing moments, UP blew that chance and the Red Warriors escaped with a 62-57 victory.
Some Love for UP Pep Squad
Allow me to allot some space of my article for the UP Pep Squad. As a UP supporter, I’ll have to take this second place as a victory in a season where UP and wins do not come really hand in hand. I congratulate all the men and women of the UP Pep Squad for putting up a stunning performance. I can only hope that next year we will rise again and come back to the top.
Keys to the Game
1. Don’t bury the Mammie
Without Super Sumang, UE will surely be feeding off the ball Charles Mammie in his favorite place, within a few feet away from the rim. That’s what they did against Adamson as he posted a jaw-dropping (exaggeration intended because my jaw didn’t drop) double-double with 24 points and 24 rebounds. Of course, it will favor them that UP has a shortage of serviceable big men (only Raul Soyud and Andrew Harris are healthy legitimate frontcourt UP players) to bang bodies with their animated Sierra Leonean center. The ideal thing for UP to limit Mammie’s inside domination is to take him outside his comfort zone. With his decent (for a big man) midrange game, Soyud can force Mammie to go out of the paint. Let the rebounding battle be between the other guys.
2. The Third Option
In the past four games of UP, Raul Soyud and Joseph Marata scored 112 of 223 points, which is equivalent to 50.2% of the entire team’s production. The offense has evidently became a two-player option. UE surely will put a premium on defending these two graduating guys. And this calls for a third guy who will step up and put up a decent scoring game. Honestly, I do not know who would it be. It might be Kyles Lao or Henry Asilum or Chris Ball. The thing is, these players are consistently inconsistent. They can put up good numbers in one game, but they can also suck big time in the next game.
3. Avoid Late-Game Errors
I can sense that this game will be a close one. And it might be decided in the closing moments of the game. Hopefully, no more eight-second backcourt violation by Asilum. Hopefully better ball movement this time around. Hopefully, Marata will handle the ball less in their possessions. Hopefully, Ball will no longer pass the ball (I find that funny) to a Jason Ligad who’s stepping on the line. They better learned from the misery that they have undergone in the last encounter.
Before the Adamson game, I predicted that Sumang-less UE will be a team that is as atrocious as UP. Perhaps, even worse. But they proved me wrong. Role players like Casajeros, Alberto and Galanza , who was a magic hugot in their last game, stepped up to the occasion and filled the void left by Sumang. Even though there is a strong gut feel in me that UP might take this one, I believe they can’t win against this team who is entering this game with a momentum.
To all the fans and supporters of UP Fighting Maroons (including yours truly), it is unfortunate to tell you that we will lose this game and subsequently will have the third winless season since 2007. UE over UP and it won’t be close.