Three of the final four teams are now known: The FEU Tamaraws, The NU Bulldogs, and the De La Salle Green Archers. As for the last seat, it is a battle between last year’s finalists, the Ateneo Blue Eagles and the UST Growling Tigers.

This round 2 match of the Teng brothers is very crucial in determining the top two teams with twice to beat advantage and the forth team to complete the final four. As mentioned in Shawn Yap’s article, if La Salle wins, FEU and La Salle will have to play another game for the right of twice-to-beat advantage. Then the UST/Ateneo match on September 18 will be the deciding game for the fourth team to complete the Final Four. On the other hand, UST winning over De La Salle will give the Tigers a twice-to-beat advantage over Ateneo in the race for the fourth place then FEU and NU will be the top two teams after elimination round.

Coming into this game, it is evident that the Green Archers have a psychological advantage. They are actually the hottest team in the UAAP with their unbeaten record in the second round. The Growling Tigers will have to deal with the hottest team for them to have a better chance of securing the final four slot. If their round one match up needed an extra five minutes to come up with a winner, how many extra periods are we going to have for this highly crucial match?

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Keys of the Game

Defense is the name of the Game

UST and La Salle have displayed in limiting their opponent’s output. In the second round, they both leveled up in this department. In round 1, UST and La Salle only allowed their opponents to an average score per game of 67.9 points and 68.1 points, respectively. Come round 2, the Tigers only allowed 65.8 points and the Green Archers allowed just 65.1 points. These numbers manifest how defensively oriented these two teams are. Aside from the offensive slug between the Teng brothers, it is just right to expect a highly defensive game between these two teams. Stat to lookout for in this key point is the turnover. In their previous match La Salle was forced to commit 24 turnovers that contributed to their five point loss against UST.

UST swarming defense (Photo Credit: Marlon Bernabe, SolarSportsdesk.ph)

UST’s swarming defense (Photo Credit: Marlon Bernabe, SolarSportsdesk.ph)

Rebounds, Rebounds, Rebounds…

In the second round game between UST and UP, the Tigers dominated the boards big time! And as a result UST won convincingly, by a huge margin of 24 points. The Tigers have been showing a lot of improvements in rebounding in the second round and this has kept them in the race for the Final Four. From being an average rebounding team in round 1 averaging 44.4 total rebounds per game, UST is now leading the rebounding department with an average total rebounds of 52.4 per game. This is a plus eight rebounds per game and eight extra possession that could result to at least eight added points. Hopefully UST’s improvements in rebounding doesn’t stop there. With a team as huge as La Salle, every rebound will be a huge factor.

Pressure packed Free throws

In an expected close game like this, free throws will definitely be a huge factor. If it was still the first round and we are talking about free throws, I can easily give a check mark to UST but many games have been played in round 2. La Salle improved a lot in free throw department while UST saw themselves slide from being the team with the best free throw rating to only third as of now. It is time to bring back those free throw stroke, Tigers.

Prediction

Oh my, prediction section again. Admittedly, with the way Green Archers have been playing and putting into account Jeric Teng’s injury woes, La Salle is a step or two ahead of the Tigers. But come to think of it, UST was able to survive and stay in contention despite of all those injury misfortunes. This only shows that UST has that ability to turn things around come what may. In a crucial game like this, the Tigers’ passion will shine (this is me being a Thomasian, sorry guys). UST will win this one.