A win for the UST Growling Tigers would mean a little bit of breathing room and a momentum that they could carry on for their next assignment, which is none other than the perennial champion Ateneo Blue Eagles. But a loss would put them in trouble that could probably drag them to the cellar of the standing by the end of the first round.
This year is going to be balanced and I also believe that any team can beat anybody this year.
– Eric Altamirano
You might argue that this isn’t true as FEU Tamaraws had established their separation from the rest of the teams by snagging their sixth straight victory while UP Maroons can’t seems to get the monkey off their back. We can say that these two teams act as the exception of the rule for now, but look at the win-loss record of the six other teams – it is suffocating out there, one wrong move and you’ll slide at least three ranks.
After the fourth quarter meltdown of the Growling Tigers in their last game against Tamaraws, the España based cagers cannot afford to relax or worst put their guards down just because they are up against the winless UP Maroons. They actually have the skills and personnel to utilize to beat a team. They have inside presence provided by Raul Soyud and Chris Ball, Sam Marata’s hot shooting, and their promising rookie, Kyles Lao, who can beat you with his drive to the basket.
Comparing the stats of UP and UST, I was stunned to find out that despite of all the losses of the Fighting Maroons, their numbers are not that far from UST. The only clear-cut advantage of the Tigers are Points Allowed and Free Throw Rating (FTR) and the rest of the statistical category are pretty close. The more reason for the Tigers to push themselves to pound on the weaknesses of the Fighting Maroons.
UST’s clear-cut advantage over UP
Close Fight in the Three Factors of the Game
Keys to the Game
Abdul needs help from the Outside
Tigers have been really successful when they are pounding the ball inside the paint. I’ve been really stressing this out because I really believe in Karim Abdul’s advantage in the shaded lane. Abdul would either muscle his way towards the basket, score and/or get fouled. In all fairness with Abdul, he’s been doing a great job (well except for those missed FTs during FEU game) the problem arises when UST’s shooters starts to miss their shot. And boy they miss A LOT, specially from beyond the arc (ugh! Coach Pido, extra shooting session please). Repercussion? Defense clogs the lane making it extra hard for Abdul to operate inside.
UST has been shooting awfully this season, they have the least numbers of made 3-point shots (only 3.8 per game) and has the second worst 3PT% (I’m not used to this, what happened?). In season 75, UST made the second most numbers of 3-point shots, sinking almost six 3-point shot a game, now it has been reduced to almost half. The Tigers are capable of improving this numbers and they should start doing it now.
|Season 76 Average (22 games)||Season 75 Average|
Make Up for the Boards
Worst case scenario, if the shooters keep on missing, everyone should make an extra effort to box out and grab those boards. UST has been out-rebounded four times out of their five games. Good thing UP has the same problems in the rebounding department, in fact they are the worst rebounding team in the league by far. Given that UP is not really known for their rebounding, Abdul, Aljon Mariano, and Kevin Ferrer should capitalize on this.
Marata as a Marked Man
Samuel Marata has been carrying the Fighting Maroons scoring load. On average, Marata’s scored 24 percent of UP’s total score in their past five games. Limiting him would definitely work for the Tigers. Instead of giving him the confidence to shoot the lights out, make him work for his shot or much better if he passes it to the other guys who are not really known for their scoring.
The UST Growling Tigers will be eager to make up for their lapses in their last game. They will win this one and improve their record to 4-2.