A team as bad as the UP Fighting Maroons combined with an NU squad that’s firing on all cylinders lately and you’ll come up with an absolutely stunning dish of a blowout game. For the eleventh time this season, the Fighting Maroons failed to come up with the W. As simplistic as this may sound, UP lost to NU, 62-79, because they are just not at par with the Bulldogs. In pop music reference, UP to NU is like Cueshe to Eraserheads, Rebecca Black to Alicia Keys, or Sam Concepcion to Justin Timberlake. No matter how UP tries hard, they are clearly miles away from NU’s league.
In the early going of this game, UP traded baskets with NU and managed to keep within striking distance despite the scorching offense from Bobby Ray Parks. A lot of their offense are coming still from 1-on-1 plays of Raul Soyud and Joseph Marata just like in their previous game against Adamson. Luckily, this time, the shots from these plays are falling at a better rate which explains a close NU lead.
However, the third quarter turned out to be NU’s time to run away as they unleashed a 12-0 run in the middle of the period. The Fighting Maroons appeared to be clueless as to how to respond to an NU squad playing at their full strength. They can’t keep up with NU’s uptempo offense. Their transition defense is clearly terrible to which NU’s slashers like Parks and Javillonar capitalized. They can’t raise their gear higher just when they needed most. This relatively young UP squad was manhandled by Parks and his crew in that stretch. It seemed like a huge tornado hit them and they had no idea what to do next. In the end, UP plainly became the UP we know. They withered. Their defense collapsed whenever NU swung the ball. Their offense became mostly Soyud and Marata and little elsewhere, which is a recurring theme for the Fighting Maroons in this season.
Reviewing of the Keys of the Game
1. Less fouls = Less free throws
They did manage to foul less than their season average of 21 per game, only 15. However, most of their fouls are shooting fouls, which translated to 22 free throws. Add to that, they allowed NU a 26 percent free throw rate, higher than the 24 percent they allowed this season. Definitely, this is an X mark.
2. More from Mbe and Parks = Less from other guys
While the Fighting Maroons were able to limit the production of the role players like Roño (who was scoreless), Khobuntin and Javillonar, who were instrumental in their winning streak, they did not see it coming that Parks will suddenly break out of his shooting woes as he registered a season-high 30 points. UP’s defense was simply unable to contain Parks. Julius Wong, who started the game as Parks’ designated defender, was a step slow as the two-time MVP continuously attacked the basket from the three-point line. JR Gallarza meanwhile was more focused watching the ball movement of NU than keeping an eye on him. With this, Parks was able to find open spaces to knock down the jumpers. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Mbe, the man on top of our MVP Watch, silently tallied another double-double (14 points and 13 rebounds).
3. More ball movement = more assists
As I’ve mentioned earlier, UP’s offense has been more of 1-on-1 plays. There was definitely lack of passing in their offense. Whenever Soyud touches the ball within 10 feet, chances are he’ll dribble twice and suddenly pull off a fadeaway despite an open teammate somewhere in the perimeter. Whenever Marata gets the ball from the three-point area, chances are he’ll step back and pull off a triple. In their offense, the Fighting Maroons appeared to be lost. Of course, it won’t help that their point guards aren’t acting as facilitators. Henry Asilum and Paul Desiderio are point guards that clearly have scoring mentalities. They are more inclined to score than do the setting up. They have to realize that this type of mentality won’t work any better for this struggling team.
A loss like this is not only frustrating for the team, but also among the UP supporters. The idea of another winless season is now three losses away from reality. And with this type of performance, it won’t be shocking if we go 0-14 once more.