View from the Enemy: Adamson Soaring Falcons
This game is going to be a dog fight. The Adamson (AdU) Soaring Falcons will be in for a tough grind against last year’s finalist, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers. This match will be far from what the Falcons’ had in their first game against University of the Philippines wherein they totally controlled the entire match. Perfect win-loss record and a chance to share the top spot with FEU Tamaraws are at stake.
Adamson’s reputation of suffocating defense and UST’s desire to be a defensive oriented team will inevitably lead to a low scoring slugfest. Expect the two Cameroonian imports, Karim Abdul and Ingrid Sewa, to go all out in their head-to-head battle inside the paint; while the two guards, Jeric Teng and Jericho Cruz, display their elegance in eluding their respective defenders when driving towards the basket. All these four players had been instrumental in securing in their respective opening games. Both imports tallied a double-double performances (Abdul with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Sewa with 15 points and 10 rebounds) whereas the two guards lead their respective troops in scoring, Teng with 23 points and Cruz with 19 points.
Most likely, Abdul and Sewa, Teng and Cruz will cancel each others out. It is now up to Aljon Mariano and Ryan Montecarlo to step up their game for their team’s advantage. Mariano who’s played sparingly due to sprained ankle was reported to be 100% for the game against AdU. He must help out the Tigers to spread the floor with his decent shooting from the field (last season eFG% of 45.1%). It is expected that with UST’s horrible shooting from beyond the arc (0 out of 13) in their last game, AdU will clog the lane and/or use a zone defense to stop the Tigers from scoring inside the paint. With Mariano shooting from the outside, he will draw some defenders out of the lane and allow Abdul to operate down low.
Montecarlo, who had to sit out of most of the entire first game due to his inability to attend to their practices prior to their game mainly because of the death of his mom, is now expected to suit up in this game. Montecarlo’s presence will be an added burden to UST’s unproven backcourt. Clark Bautista will have his hand full and he will most likely spend most of his energy guarding Montecarlo. This will in turn affect Bautista’s offensive game (mainly his three-point shooting – which is badly needed by the Tigers).
Keys to the Game
Attack and Protect the Rim
After six games, all those teams who dominated the paint (as indicated by their At The Rim%) have won their respective wins. This only shows that dominance in the paint plays a huge factor in dictating the outcome of the game. AdU and UST were fortunate to win the battle at the rim, primarily because of the double-double performances of their imports.
AdU’s rookie import, Sewa, will be put into real deal test with his matchup against last year’s MVP contender, Abdul. Can the rookie repeat his double-double output against a much bigger and stronger opponent? Their stats from their previous games shows that Abdul has a slight advantage in terms of points, assists, steals, and blocks. Abdul pivoting the Tigers inside game in terms of offense and defense will definitely create problems to the Falcons.
Control the Boards
AdU was able to demolish UP in the rebounding department by 24, a huge margin. The Falcons’ dominance on the boards rewarded them 16 second chance points. Taking away this advantage would narrow down AdU’s chance of winning. Unlike UP, UST has the man power to limit Falcons’ rebounding with presence of Abdul and Paulo Pe, who both tallied double-digit rebounds in their last game.
Free Throw Boos
If this game is to go down the wire, Free throws will be a deciding factor on who wins the game. The team who shoots better from the line has a clear advantage in this game. The stats from each teams’ previous game favors UST in this department. Falcons’ only had a free throw rate of 20.3%, well behind UST’s 26.2%. With UST converting five out of six pressure packed free throws in the dying seconds of their overtime win over DLSU.
This game will be a nail biter just like the Tiger’s game against La Salle and an overtime period cannot be ruled out. The Tigers’ experience with close games might just draw the line, given that UST’s core are more familiar with each other and they are used to close game situations. As mentioned, Adamson’s poor FT% will be a factor in this game. I’m banking on UST’s experience and their steady free throw shooting to seal their second straight win.