View from the Enemy: UST Growling Tigers

There is really no basketball rivalry between UP Fighting Maroons and UST Growling Tigers. (Probably you’re laughing because I’m stating the obvious.) But because of the rivalry of these two schools in the cheerdance competition, their matches become more appealing and more bearable to watch. I suggest you watch it live on the venue even if you do not support either of the two teams. You’ll surely enjoy the exchange of cheers and jeers between the supporters of two schools. Especially at the halftime, during the performance of the pep squads.

Let’s go back to basketball. While the UP Fighting Maroons are definitely going to be spectators during the Final Four festivities, the Growling Tigers are still in the mix. In fact, they have 61.4% chance of barging in the Final Four, as of writing. With postseason now out of sight, UP will attempt to dim UST’s hopes.  And of course, they definitely want to end this long drought. This is one of the remaining three chances for them to avoid another 0-14 record.

In their first round encounter, UP lived up to their moniker as they kept on fighting for four quarters but the Growling Tigers simply overwhelmed them, 79-69.

Keys to the Game

Production from others

In the past games of UP, it seemed like only Raul Soyud and Joseph Marata were carrying the offensive load for them. Of course, opponents are becoming fully aware of this so their defense will key in on these two guys. And this calls for others to step up. Lately, we are missing the production of the likes of Ball, Asilum and perhaps Lao. If UP wants to get the win in this game, these guys have to step up.

Stop Abdul

It will be easier said than done. Currently number four on our MVP Watch, Karim Abdul has been putting up 21 points and 14 rebounds per game in the second round. And I won’t expect he’ll be  doing less especially now, when they are fighting tooth and nail for a Final Four spot. Hopefully, if Soyud remains active on both ends of the court as he was recently, he can force Abdul to exert more effort on both ends.

Free throws

The last time they met, UP allowed UST only 15.1% free throw rate. And that affair was a pretty close one by UP’s standards. If UP can avoid giving up cheap fouls, there will less opportunity for the Tigers to gain points from the free throw line.

Prediction

The stakes are higher for UST. Expect them not to take this game lightly. Even though, UP badly wants to win and to avoid a winless season, that might not be enough against a squad that wants to take part in the Final Four. UST wins by at least 10 points.