UP Fighting Maroons def. NU Bulldogs 80 — 79

Who impressed: Every game he plays confirms what we already know, Dave Ildefonso will be a star someday. Beyond the fact that he was able to score 25 points this game, it was the manner by which he got his points that impressed the most. Dave was using his whole arsenal of moves in order to take the shots the defense was giving him. The size of his guts were matched only by the size of his biceps, shown through his willingness to take big shots, including the last three pointer which got NU within 1 point. Worth mentioning as well is Javi Gomez de Liano who is quickly becoming a key contributor to UP. His 17 points in this game came off 5 of 7 shooting from beyond the arc, shooting that forced NU to close out on him, leaving Bright Akhuetie and Kobe Paras to bring on the pain from the inside.

How did the game go: UP controlled majority of the game. Kobe Paras hitting from beyond the arc early set the tone for the Fighting Maroons and allowed them to better spread the ball around. NU simply did not have the size to match up with Paras or Akhuetie and were fortunate Juan Gomez de Liano was still missing his shots. A nice string of offense from JV Gallego gave NU a fighting chance toward the end of the game, but, like the three games they played previous to this one, NU could not make the game winning play.

What to look forward to: NU is going to win one eventually, right? It’s got to be tough seeing this team of young players perform so well for 39.5 minutes only to have the rug pulled under them because of the last .5 that they let go of the gas pedal. Erratic play is expected from teams reliant on scoring guards like Dave Ildefonso but their ability to consistently be competitive should be rewarded soon. 

Meanwhile UP is learning to use their talent. They’re getting a better feel of the opportunities their star talents are best suited for. Kobe Paras is getting used to throwing his weight around especially when it comes to getting to the rim. Bright Akhuetie is still their most consistent player while Juan GDL and Ricci Rivero are bound to have good offensive games eventually.

Adamson Soaring Falcons def. UST Growling Tigers 78 — 71

Who impressed: While was good to see Jerrick Ahanmisi come out of the gates aggressive in this game, scoring the first 12 points for the Soaring Falcons, it was Valandre Chauca who really caught people’s attention for his gutsy gutsy play that allowed the Falcons to win the game. 18 points on 5 of 17 shooting isn’t much to write home about, but when you sprinkle in the fact that 12 of those points came in the 4th quarter, it’s hard not to heap praises on him for leading the 16-0 run that closed out the game in favor of the Soaring Falcons.

How did the game go: As expected, UST’s mayhem offense mixed with Adamson’s Pumaren press created a beautiful mixture of chaos inside the basketball court. UST waxed hot from beyond the arc to start the game, scoring their first 18 points off three pointers. It was only by the grace of Jerrick Ahanmisi’s aggressiveness that Adamson wasn’t knocked out of the game that early.

UST looked poised to run away with the game given the scoring ability of Soulemane Chabi Yo and the ruthless play by Rhenz Abando on both ends, but they screeched to a halt when Abando got hurt trying to block Vince Magbuhos in transition. The sudden shock was the gap AdU needed to get their bearings, get back into the game and pull the rug under UST.

What to look forward to: A Rhenz Abando revenge game will be great to see. He was practically unstoppable until the moment he got hurt. UST has bought in so deep into their system that any team that is not performing at 100% will simply be crushed under the weight of the mayhem they bring. Their willingness to live and die by their shot selection all in the name of pushing the pace in order to play the long game makes them one of the most exciting teams to watch this season. 

On the other hand, the Soaring Falcons are slowly learning to grow into their own skin. Chauca and Ahanmisi explosions aren’t the most sustainable source of offense out there, but learning to embrace the fact that they have that scoring ability will be crucial to their growth moving forward.

FEU Tamaraws def. DLSU Green Archers 66 — 55

Photo Credit: UAAP

Who impressed: The Green Archers are not in tip top shape, considering how many changes were made to their roster and coaching staff so close to the start of the season. FEU’s Pat Tchuente exposed just how raw DLSU is. He went to town on them. It’s not everyday a player gets to put up 19 points off 9 of 11 field goal shooting. Not to mention grabbing 11 rebounds throughout the game. He and Barkley Ebona had a field day scoring on sky high efficiency, both of them missing only 3 field goals between them.

How did the game go: It was a terrible offensive outing for both teams. FEU shot 37% from the field, DLSU shot 31%. FEU was fortunate to have Tchuente taking advantage of DLSU’s lack of rim protection because Comboy, Gonzales and Tuffin were clanking shots left and right. Also fortunate for FEU was that their defensive ability forced Jamie Malonzo to shoot at bad 8 of 24 from the field. Didn’t help DLSU that Melecio was 2 of 12 from the field as well. Royce Alforque knocking down shots to keep the game out of reach was the cherry on top of FEU practically neutralizing DLSU’s scoring.

What to look forward to: FEU is one of the more consistent teams in the UAAP and this game showed it. But it also showed what FEU could work on, which is its scoring ability. Pat Tchuente getting his confidence up will definitely translate to improved performances down the line, but it’s the guards who really need to step up their game on offense. The likes of Wendell Comboy and LJ Gonzales can’t keep putting up 30% field goal percentage performances if they are going to compete against teams with more fire power like Ateneo, UP and UST. 

DLSU on the other hand has a lot on their plate to work on. When Jamie Malonzo is taking 24 shots in order to get 20 points, that’s a cause for concern because there’s not enough ball to go around to feed fellow volume scorer Aljun Melecio. DLSU should look for more stable scoring options with Malonzo and Melecio serving as the knockout punch, possibly in Encho Serrano who was a quiet 3 of 5 from the field this game.