View from the Enemy: NU Bulldogs

Standing at the opposing far ends of the team standings are UP Fighting Maroons and NU Bulldogs. While UP have not yet tallied a win this season, NU, as of late, are picking up victories as easy as snatchers grabbing mobile phones in Recto. But in their first round encounter, UP put on a valiant stand in the third quarter to keep it a tight contest. However, Gelo Alolino decided to put it away and delivered a masterful performance in the fourth quarter as NU emerged victors, 74-60.

Keys to the Game

There are three import simple equations that UP needs to be reminded of if they want to pull off an upset of ages.

1. Less fouls = Less free throws

UP has to stop giving unnecessary fouls (something they have done on a regular basis this season) so they won’t get into penalty early on. In their first round match, UP gave a ton of fouls, 28 in total to which NU capitalized by going to the free throw line an enormous 4o times while converting 30 of those.

2. More from Mbe and Parks = Less from other guys

In case you don’t know, the National Bulldogs are the hottest team on the league today, carrying a five-game winning streak upon entering this contest. One reason for their recent success is the great play by their role players like Dennice Villamor, Glen Khoubuntin and Robin Rono whose corner threes reminds me of Bruce Bowen’s in San Antonio Spurs’ championship runs.

If UP wants to be the team that will douse the fire on this Bulldogs, they have to check this guys. Let NU’s offense be a two-man show of Emmanuel Mbe and Bobby Ray Parks, the top two guys currently in our MVP Watch. I’d rather let Bobby Parks shoot the ball than facilitate the offense as he is on a season slump , shooting only 30.9% on the field and 20.4% from the downtown. As with Mbe, I’m pretty sure he will find his way to make an impact of this game, regardless of the situation. It is only a matter of limiting him. If Raul Soyud can be as mobile as he was in the last game, it might force to work hard on both ends of the court.

Raul Soyud has to make Emmanuel Mbe work hard on both ends of the court. (Photo Credit: PInoy Exchange)

Raul Soyud has to make Emmanuel Mbe work hard on both ends of the court. (Photo Credit: PInoy Exchange)

3. More ball movement = More assists

I don’t know if this is part of coach Rey Madrid’s tactics but I’ve seen a lot of isolation plays in the last two games. This of course kills the ball rotation and does not help them to find a better percentage shot.  In the first half of their match versus DLSU, they were able to swing the ball well as they racked up 10 assists.

However, it was a different story in the second half. They only scored 21 points and failed to  register an assist. Obviously, there is a positive correlation between those numbers. In their last game against Adamson, it was really frustrating to watch their offensive sets because it really lacked fluidity.  One player, whether it be Soyud, Marata or Asilum, handles the ball too much in the shot clock. This leads little time to spread the ball and find an open teammate. In case you’re curious, UP only tallied six assists, one less than the production of Adamson’s point guard Ryan Monteclaro. All in all, UP needs to distribute the ball. Enough of the one-on-one plays.

Prediction

Choosing which team will nail the victory in this game is like choosing between Kia and Ferrari when buying a car. Unfortunately, the Fighting Maroons are just a class below from the Bulldogs. Considering UP’s uninspiring performance in the last six quarters (the last two quarters against DLSU, and the entire four quarters against Adamson), I don’t see UP barging the win column at the end of the game. There seems no chance at all. And this won’t be even close.