After 720 days, the basketball gods have finally answered the prayers of the UP community. Perhaps Dan Palami should promise a bonfire celebration in the Sunken Garden every now and then.
Kidding aside, while there is no major ramification in the grand scheme of things in the current landscape (that is, UP and Adamson are still the bottom two teams) with this 77-64 victory by UP over the Soaring Falcons, this meant definitely a lot for the Fighting Maroons as they halted their lengthy victory drought which seemed an eternity.
The game actually began like what most people had predicted — messy and rugged. It was like 10 kids playing basketball for the first time. A lot of turnovers were committed by both squads. Defense was shabby. The same can be said with their offense. But when they finally settled in this much-anticipated duel of two titans at the rock bottom, it was Adamson who started on a high note, thanks to their veterans Jansen Rios and Don Trollano. Soon after, it was UP who unleashed a momentum-swinging run led by Mikee Reyes and JR Gallarza. And the Fighting Maroons never looked back from them on, though Adamson made one valiant stand (but not enough, of course) late in the fourth quarter which silenced the UP crowd momentarily in the arena.
Indvidual Offensive Ratings
Reviewing the Keys of the Game
LET THEM TAKE THREES
With UP employing the 2-3 zone for most parts of the game, Adamson happily jacked up one triple after the other. Their offense deviated from inside as their frontline presented little to none offensive option. They seemingly got intimated by their UP counterparts. Yes, even the weak UP frontline (Mark Juruena, Gelo Vito and Andrew Harris) got the better of AdU’s (which speaks volume of their quality, or the lack of). The Falcons attempted 24 triples in total, but only made three. Trollano led the chucking task with nine three-point attempts, converting only two. Without a doubt, this is a check mark for the Fighting Maroons.
THE TALE OF FREE THROWS
Regarding this matter, I think UP got the upper hand. Entering into this contest, UP was sporting a 13.1 free throw rate, which is second to last in the league. Adamson, meanwhile, had 24.0%, which is second best. Tables were a bit turned in this match, UP attained a 22.1% free throw rate while Adamson had 19.1%.
THE OTHER WEAPONS
Kyles Lao and Dave Moralde did not have the offensive explosion I was hoping for. It was the veterans — Reyes and Gallarza, who stepped up and led the UP charge towards their first victory of the season. Mikee, for all the criticism he has taken for his helter-skelter play, instigated the barrage early on and continued his stellar play in the third quarter where UP pulled away. JR, on the other hand, when he’s not making his threes, was cleaning the offensive boards like how he has done it excellently last season. His energy and relentless pursuit to ball was very infectious to his teammates.
Game Notes and Other Observations
1. UP featured a lot of small lineups in this game. They started with two point guards: Reyes and Henry Asilum. Perhaps, this is done to push the pace of the game. It is also possible that coach Ramil Cruz inserted the ballhandlers at the same time in the court since these guys have the tendency to just shoot the basket, instead of directing the offensive sets during their separate stints on the court.
At some point, they used a three-guard lineup: Reyes-Asilum-Lao. I don’t have the numbers but I think they did well. But you have to consider that this was against the Adamson. Consider this a wild experiment. Likely, we won’t be seeing this three-guard setup against other teams.
2. Adamson lived and died with Trollano and Rios. The two guys, who had usage rate of 37.0 and 22.6 percent respectively, had tremendous start in this game. But when they cooled off in the middle part of the game, Adamson plummeted. The other guys, unfortunately for them, provided little support in their cause.
3. At the middle of third quarter when UP had erected its biggest lead at 24, the crowd suddenly cheered “Bonfire! Bonfire!” It was a funny but surreal moment.
Ending a 27-game winless streak is one thing. Building momentum from this victory is another. There are still seven games left in the season. Can they finally find a remedy to their shabby offense and on their league-worst defense? Can they finally pull off victories against other opponents? Can they get to that three-win guarantee by Rey Madrid?
There are lot of questions for UP entering into the second round. But can we just savor this victory first? Wins come few and far in between for them. We can never tell when the next UP win is. It may come as soon as the next game, or it may come again after another 720 days (hopefully not).
Featured images courtesy of Czeasar Dancel, NPPA Images