For the UP Fighting Maroons, a two-week layoff coupled with modification in the player jerseys did not serve them any better as they fell to neighbors ADMU Blue Eagles, 67-59 in their opening act of the second round.
UP started the game on a high note, thanks to their scorching shooting from the field (61%) and great zone defense as they raced to a 21-14 lead at the end of first canto. The lead ballooned as much as 11 in the second quarter as Marata knocked down his third triple of the game. But the Blue Eagles started to burst the lead as they end the first half on an 11-1 run.
After losing momentum at the end of the first half, the Fighting Maroons never recovered in the game. Shots that fell in the early part were suddenly not making it inside the cylinder in the second half. Add to that, their zone defense became less effective as Ateneo’s shooters suddenly converting the threes. They also allowed a lot of offensive rebounds which the Blue Eagles capitalized as they scored 17 second chance points for the entire game.
Review of the Keys of the Game
1. Take it slow
There were approximately 74 possessions in this game, which is at par with the average 76 possessions in UP’s previous seven games. And for those who don’t follow UP religiously, they lost in all the seven games.
Surprisingly, UP has more fastbreak attempts than Ateneo, 9-6, but the Blue Eagles were able to snag more points, 10-8. It was unfortunate that the Fighting Maroons were not capitalizing on these fastbreak opportunities. I remember the instance in the closing moments in the second quarter where UP had a 3-on-1 fastbreak attempt; however, Kyles Lao passed the ball too low which Marata was not able to catch that led to a turnover. In the next possession, Juami Tiongson knocked down a triple with a late contest from Marata. That was a 5-point swing which fueled Ateneo’s momentum and degraded UP’s moral.
2. Capitalize on turnovers
Unlike their previous meeting, there were a lot of turnovers this time as they combined for a whopping 33 turnovers. Ateneo managed to score 16 turnover points while UP had 10 which equals their season average. I think you’ll take that 10 turnover points considering they were not able to score a single turnover point in their last meeting.
3. Share the ball
Jut when I thought Henry Asilum is finding his groove as a playmaker, he suddenly went back being a score-first, pass-later point guard. He made two triples early in the first quarter, but he then disappeared. He didn’t even managed an assist in 22 minutes. It is really frustrating to see his inconsistency.
As a team, UP only had 8 assists. The ball was well-distributed in the first quarter, which is why they were able to score some easy points and get the lead. But UP being UP, they went back to a lot of 1-on-1 plays from the second quarter until the end of game. It didn’t help also that there were no true point guard that can direct the offense on the court for some time. In as much as UP lacks quality players at almost all positions, they badly need a quality point guard. Seriously,this team badly misses Mikee Reyes.
Review of the Key Matchup
Kyles Lao vs. Kiefer Ravena
|Points||True Shooting||Rebounds||Usage Rate||Minutes|
It is a welcoming sight that Kyles Lao is taking more of UP’s plays as he registered a 29.0% usage rate, his highest in eight games. If only given more playing time, he can put up better numbers. He may be a defensive liability given his physique, but he’s not as bad as Marata on the defensive end.
On the other hand, Ravena filled the stat sheet as he clobbered a career-high 14 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. With the looks of it, he is certainly back.
The two-week break appeared to have no positive effect on UP. The same problems from the first round still persist on this team. We still rebound badly (35/57/45 rebounding split). We still take few free throws (7.8 percent free throw rate). We still take too many three-point shots but converts few (8-27 3PT shooting). Is there still time to fix these problems? Let’s just hope so. Just like any other Fighting Maroon supporter, I do not want another winless season.