It’s one heck of an up-and-down season for the UAAP for most teams, with only two separating themselves from the pack. One is a given, while the other seems like a pleasant surprise after all the choking done last year.
But aside from UST and FEU, everyone seems to be scrambling for that bit of lost mojo. The 3-5 ranks in the standings have been a mess and one school looks to capitalize on the outside looking in. But hey, welcome to the inaugural HumbleBola round table!
Here at HB, we dig through teams via stats, for what kind of analytical site we’d be if we don’t make use of it and still use archaic description right?
The staff decided to talk about, among other things, the surprising rise of UST that nobody saw coming (not even us!), the struggles of the other contenders, and the topic that the Blue faithful have really been iffy on: coaching.
Alright, hang on to your seats and enjoy the ride!
What do you think about the UST “surprise” so far? Are they even in full throttle or will they pull Abdul out of a hat, come the important games, to barrel themselves through?
Karlo Lovenia (Resident Nieto publicist):
I think Abdul is no longer the focal point of the offensive attack of UST, so I think they’re already in full throttle. They’re prioritizing Easy Ed and KFer right now, but others are also able to contribute because of the attention the two get. I think Abdul is your ‘if all else fails’ guy when Daquioag’s penetration is covered and Ferrer isn’t going nova.
Mark Esperaz (Kilabot ng Taft):
UST’s got talent but it was a matter of how they can maximize their talent and how they can work together as a team. And so far, they have been able to play to their potential, especially for Ferrer and Daquioag. Abdul is still big for UST, his presence alone helps UST especially on the defensive end. On the offensive end, Abdul has been their option especially on mismatches.
Pio Garcia (Foreign student-athlete equality advocate):
So, you’re saying that Abdul still is the go-to-guy right, Karlo?
KL: Let me correct myself: Abdul is the center of the offense. Without him, Ferrer and Daquioag wouldn’t be able to contribute as much. So in short, the offense is centered around him, but that doesn’t mean he has to do everything.
PG: Where does Louie Vigil fit in all this though? I still think Vigil is UST’s hidden card. When this guy is hot, he’s 80-points hot (of course that may be a stretch given his high school record).
Ramil Luteria (Hans Sy’s Spy in HB):
Let us not forget that Vigil is a former MVP.
Martin Sison (Super fan of Woodward Co):
I am not sure about Vigil though. He has been an inconsistent player all this time for UST.
RL: Any player with more minutes can be efficient. Except Calvin Abueva (laughs)!
PG: When Vigil is really hot, maaaaaan… I still don’t see anyone stepping up for big man duties if and when Abdul and Ferrer have to sit.
KL: UST is talented but depth is a problem, especially with their bigs.
ME: I think UST is in full throttle, but no one in the league has had an answer for them.
MS: I fear UST won’t get any better than this. I’m a bit worried that they peaked too soon (in the first round).
Toby Pavon (Resident HB legal correspondent):
So far, they’ve shown that they can climb back from pretty much any hole on the back of their starters. Sit Ferrer down, Daquioag will gut you and vice versa.
PG: Again, depth will be an issue in the long grind. They’d be Kiefer by the end if they keep this up. Hahahahuhuhu!
Charmie Lising (Resident She-Hulk on coaching):
I initially thought it wouldn’t be sustainable (like first few games lang) since it’s mostly KFer and Daquioag doing the damage with Abdul, occasionally. But here they are, Lee and Vigil are making a case. Still, I think it’s not enough to make it all the way though. Mapapagod din sila. Always the same people (insert Ateneo hugot here).
PG: Thank you Charmie for reiterating my depth issues with UST! I think we all agree that they’ll eventually tire out?
HB Staff Conclusion
The HumbleBola staff thinks UST is already operating at an optimum level: they are currently holding a 90.9 ORTG (compared to last year’s abysmal 81.4 ORTG), currently scoring 71.5 ppg (compared to 62.4 last year) while being consistent with their defense – opponents score 65.4 ppg, better than last year’s 66.4). However, we all fear that their lack of depth will eventually catch up to them.
It’s highly inexplicable what NU, ADMU, and DLSU are experiencing right now. What’s the biggest factor for each of their struggles so far?
PG: Let’s go with NU first. For me, the reason is the departure of Troy Rosario. You can’t just replace a 6’7″ stretch four that put up 10 and 8 and was in the MVP talks (disregarding statistical points). And then there’s his backup, Glenn Khobuntin, who was their spark off the bench dropping 8 and 6 on the other side’s second unit. This is a PF combo a college coach can only dream to have (of course disregarding Norman Black’s cadre of Rabeh, Noy, Chua, and Salva).
TP: NU won it all last year because Troy Rosario was dependable enough on offense. This year, Alolino has been too erratic to carry the offense. You don’t want Aroga being the main offensive weapon either.
KL: For NU, they don’t have a go-to scorer. Aroga isn’t built to be one. He just isn’t. Alolino is better suited as a playmaker.
PG: Sobrang laking kawalan nung top two PFs. Tapos papalitan lang ni Salim, Tansingco at Javillonar. Javillonar is absolute crap at this point. Salim is too raw.
RL: Super laki. Especially Glenn.
MS: I think they are right there where they should be. Bottom to middle of the pack. Is everything wrong with NU?
CL: Feel ko wala na sila paghuhugutan ng offense at this point.
RL: Yung halfcourt O ng NU puro Aroga. Then ‘pag screen, relies on Gelo’s decision-making. Minsan nga maiinis ka pag nag-pull-up na siya.
KL: Maganda depensa nila… But that’s basically it. NU BullDDDDDDogs.
PG: (Laughs) Walang O. [On Alolino being the focal point of the offense] Dude, Alolino isn’t even a go-to-guy or even a top-tier player. That’s me, ha. I don’t see him going to second round either (in the PBA draft). Rosario was the lynchpin of their offense in some ways. They played off him.
TP: Odd that one year later they still haven’t found a way to replace him or even adapt to his loss. It’s not like Rosario left right before the season… like another player I know.
ME: I think Rosario was too good on a lot of things last season that people really didn’t notice.
PG: Yeah the 10 ppg may not say it but he really had facets that helped NU generate easy points.
ME: I remember before they would use Javillonar over Rosario during the Parks era, look how that went.
KL: OHHHHHHHH SNAP!
PG: What about De La Salle though? I seriously don’t know what happened. They have shot bricks since I was part of HB (and way worse on FTs). And it still doesn’t look good right now.
TP: No shooters. They can’t even break a goddamn 2-3 zone.
ME: Feel ko talaga lack of center rin eh. Nahirapan si Perkins nung nawala yung dalawang higante eh. And they’ve been big man-centric for the last two years.
PG: Tratter… IS A 6’6″ KIB MONTALBO!
PG: Ramil, si Randle ata yung dinedescribe mo (laughs)! Jeron Teng can’t always bully his way in though. They lost the high post passing of Norbert Torres who anchored a semi-triangle offense.
TP: Teng bullying his way into the paint is important to their offense. Otherwise they’d be hella stagnant (laughs).
PG: Okay, onwards to the one *EVERYONE* is anticipating: Ateneo.
TP: Where do we start??
PG: BAKIT PARATI NA LANG CHOPSUEY? AND WHY DO WE INSIST WITH A ZERO OFFENSE FRONTLINE TO START A GAME? Let’s be honest. No team would shake in their pants defensively when they go up against Gotladera and Babilonia. They are not offensive-minded bigs. And also, starting fives are starting fives for a reason. They give the best balanced line-up to start a game on the right foot. But Bo seems to think otherwise. Maybe it’s because he had slim pickings when he was in the PBA? IDK MAN. IDK.
TP: I just want to point out the fact that they have at least three Juniors MVP caliber players in their roster and still, Kiefer Ravena has 40% USG against DLSU.
MS: [Tito joke] Pwede na sila magtayo ng security agency.
ME: Maraming alpha dogs nung HS.
TP: Aaaaand… That’s a problem of…?
ME: And why do they keep playing Capacio over AT?
PG: I SERIOUSLY DON’T KNOW WHY THEY’RE PLAYING EITHER CAPACIO OR VINCE TOLENTINO FOR DEFENSE WHEN THEY HAVEN’T REALLY BEEN HELPING ON THAT END. Capacio has a 89.5 DRTG while Tolentino has 89.9 DRTG. Ateneo has an 86.4 DRTG collectively. Arvin stands at 79.7. And then there’s the offense… *proceeds to point to the time when the team fielded the dreaded five of GBoy-Ikeh-Vince-Kief-Nieto*
ME: Basically, their mix-and-match are bad. And eight games into the season, Ateneo still haven’t figured it out. Well, at least the coach hasn’t figured it out.
CL: Hanggang ngayon nage-experiment pa rin sa rotation. Minsan sabay-sabay inuupo yung scorers. Ano na lang natira sa loob? Para namang ang ganda ng depensa.
KL: Ever since preseason pa yan. There’s trouble establishing a damn identity.
PG: Para silang yung UE last year. Manong Derrick was adamant to use Mammie when Mammie can win them games just by standing there.
CL: Okay, what’s the prob with AT? What’s the real deal behind his benching? They’re putting Gwyne over him because Gwyne can defend?
PG: “Gwyne” and “defend” don’t have the right to be in the same sentence (as I pointed above).
TP: Pero Arvin hasn’t put up the numbers in the tiny minutes he has played eh.
KL: Per 30 mins of AT tell otherwise.
PG: Adding to Karlo, AT’s per 30 stats are 9.7mpg, 12.9ppg, 8.9rpg, 0.9apg, 0.4spg. Then you look at Gotladera’s per 30 (17.1mpg, 9.0ppg, 11.4rpg, 1.8apg, 0.2spg, 0.2bpg) and Babilonia’s (14.1mpg, 4.8ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.9apg, 2.1bpg). So, please, tell me what’s up.
ME: I think though he’s [Arvin Tolentino] not the type of player that can score in bunches with limited minutes. And the problem is that Ateneo plays two defensive, no offense bigs and here is your best offensive front court player who doesn’t get big minutes.
PG: Mark, remember the Rabeh-Noy tandem? That was the perfect blend of Offense and Defense.
ME: Yep ‘sakli. By the way, Kiefer’s FG% thru the years: 44, 46, 36, 34, 32.
PG: Kiefer is either in a bad offensive system where he has to go for broke unlike in CNB’s or he’s just forcing way too many shots. There are just too many forced shots that have fell down to the core of the Earth for a 32% FG shooting.
TP: I think it’s the former. I was watching closely during Ravena’s rookie year.
KL: Ateneo has the talent. They do. They’re young, but CRAZY talented. You have a 6’6″ scoring machine, a 6’3″ combo guard and Kiefer Ravena. Pero ano? Wala. The team is so damn versatile. Players can play so many positions which can help ease the rotation. PERO WALA. KIEFER LANG EH.
CL: Kiefer does everything on the court. Scoring, facilitating, rebounding, even defending, while being hounded by defenders all throughout. He always starts with involving teammates as much as he can. Sa crunch time yung “I got this” mode. Hirap kasi na ang dami namang talent pero hindi nau-utilize/develop.
TP: Exactly what Charmie said.
PG: So Ateneo’s struggle…*drumroll please*
ME: …is the coach’s decisions on the floor, rotation (too much Kief) and under-utilization of players.
HB Staff Conclusion
NU still hasn’t moved on from the loss of Rosario and Khobuntin left the Bulldogs with no legit offensive weapon to give the ball to when it’s really needed. DLSU is plagued by the disease of not being able to shoot, relying too much on a Jeron Teng tank move, and oh, have we said “cannot shoot?” And Ateneo, well, the coach’s in-game adjustments, rotation, too much Kief and under-utilization of players.
What are the ideal characteristics of a collegiate coach?
KL: A collegiate coach has to focus on developing his players’ skills. Not just one player ha. PlayerS. With an S.
CL: Player development is key.
ME: I think college game should be about team game. Training and development of every player is important. When was the last time a team succeeded via a one-man team?
TP: Player development and flexibility.
PG: Who do you think exemplified all those qualities among the UAAP coaches, now and before?
KL: Coach Norman.
TP: My ideal college coach, siyempre super-duper biased ako, Coach Leo Austria.
PG: Nash and Norman.
ME: Eric Altamirano.
CL: Norman and Nash.
MS: Nash Racela. A brilliant mind and a seemingly relatable father figure to his players.
PG: The commonality between all those: they are teachers. It’s a different thing when you have a teacher as a coach eh. For example, Coach K of Duke, Norman, Leo, Nash, Tim Cone…
HB Staff Conclusion
To be a college coach, you have to be a teacher, and focused on the TEAM, not your next PBA superstar. A coach has to have the patience and the guidance of a loving father in order to develop the young talents at his disposal. They are kids, not professional basketball players. They are still in the age where they are honing their craft to take their performances to another level.
‘Til next time!
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