There were three things in my mind five minutes after the game.

  1. What the hell happened?
  2. Why the hell were there so many passes in one possession?
  3. Where the hell were the plays?

Clearly, to me, the game didn’t end well. Others would have been fine with the outcome;

“Ganun talaga. May natatalo, may nananalo.”

“Bawi nalang sa La Salle!”

“We only have three losses, anyway. Mahaba pa season!”

I, personally, am not amused. There were a lot of things happening—and not happening—in the NU Bulldogs’ game against Adamson Soaring Falcons. All throughout the game, there were a lot of shot attempts for NU but had little points converted (24 out of 66 attempts). There weren’t much planned plays either. It felt like they all had one goal (to win) but was just doing their own thing individually. While I appreciate the fact that they do have skills of their own, I want to state the obvious—this is a team sport. To win, the key is to work as a group. Everyone has to work together. Need I say more?

Anyway, let’s go to the story line.

The Story

NU Coach Eric Altamirano started the game with another unusual line up with Mark de Guzman and Nico Javelona playing guards but de Guzman was quickly pulled out for Maurice Porter. They started the first quarter with a turnover by Emmanuel Mbe. Adamson’s Jansen Rios opened up the quarter with a bucket from a Jericho Cruz assist. Michael Agustin scored another basket after an attempt missed by Mbe. National-U’s starting point guard tried for a trey but couldn’t get it in right after Cruz tried to shoot his own three-pointer. Ryan Monteclaro turned the ball over at the 5:45 mark of the first quarter which lead to a basket for the Bulldogs. Monteclaro scored two points after Mbe splits his charities from a foul by Ingrid Sewa. Five seconds before the quarter ends, Javelona makes a three that inches NU closer to the Falcons, 17-15.

Antonio Inigo opened the second quarter with a missed three. Dawn Ochea fouled Tristan Perez after Dennice Villamor couldn’t convert his three-point attempt. Jj Alejandro turns the ball over that lead to Cruz making a basket. Sewa missed one of his free throws and gave NU the chance to snatch the ball. That lead to a three by veteran Robin Roño from Bobby Ray Parks Jr. Troy Rosario gave away the ball plus a foul. Cruz and Mbe both missed their individual attempts. Roider Cabrera got his first three points from beyond the arc; it gave Adamson the six-point advantage. The next points for the Soaring Falcons were again from Cabrera after the ball slips past Mbe’s hands but he made up for it as he converts a missed attempt by Rosario. In a different sequence, Parks gets his first few points from the three-point area from an assist by Roño that inched them a bit closer, 24-27. Ar-raouf Julkipli made a buzzer beater to close the quarter.

NU

Where’s the offense? (Photo Credit: InboundPass.com)

Rodney Brondial opened up the scoring for the third quarter. Jeoff Javillonar gets back the point with his own basket. Brondial missed an attempt from the outside that lead to a basket by Parks. At the 6:15 minute of the quarter, Cruz added a three to make the score 37-33. Mbe tips in the basket from a miss by Parks. Adamson starter, Cruz sinks in another trey from an assist by Rios. Agustin fouls Parks that gives him two charities which he both made. Villamor scores a two—his first basket in the entire game. Two consecutive turnovers were made by the Falcons but NU couldn’t translate it into a score. Parks gave NU a two point-lead by sinking in two charities from a foul by Cabrera. Jericho Cruz ties the game at 48 at the end of the third quarter.

At the last period, Parks finds a bucket with a foul given by Brondial. This gives NU a three-point lead, 51-48 but Cabrera got it back and ties the game 51-all with a trey. Perez turnover gave Adamson a two-point advantage courtesy of Harry Petilos. Perez recovered and ties the game at 53 with a tip-in from a Parks miss. Javillonar sinks in a three after Celedonio Trollano made a basket. Another three-pointer came from the Gold and Blue courtesy of Roño. Trollano helped the Falcons inch closer to Nationa-U with his own three after Javillonar missed a basket. Monteclaro fouls Mbe while battling for the rebound; the Cameroonian converts both his free throws, 63-60. Monteclaro scored a two after stealing the ball from Parks. Sewa added another bucket to give his team a one-point lead, 64-63. Javillonar tried from the outside but couldn’t convert it. No one was under the basket for NU to get the rebound resulting to two points by Cruz. The Bulldogs tried to come closer but couldn’t get anything in. Another two points from Cruz sent daggers to NU, 68-65. Three consecutive fouls were given up by the boys from Sampaloc to prevent anymore scoring from the Falcons. Parks gets a bucket, 65-68. NU gives up another foul and sent Cabrera to the free throw line. He missed both and gave National University a chance to get a win via Roño’s three but it didn’t go in. That ended the game, 68-66.

Reviewing Keys to the Game

Locate and lockdown Sewa

NU Bulldogs outrebounded their opponents in this game. They had 40 rebounds versus Adamson’s 35. Though, from the Falcons’ 35 rebounds, 13 of those came from Ingrid Sewa. The Bulldogs didn’t do a good job in locking him down as his average rebounds per game is 10. Scoring-wise, they did well. AdU’s starting center only had six points under his belt.

The boys in Gold and Blue otherwise were better at boxing out this time around. This is probably why they managed to come back in the game. They had more second chance points than Adamson, 14-6.

We need more guys on defense. (Photo Credit: Josh Albelda of UAAP Sports.TV)

We need more guys on defense. (Photo Credit: Josh Albelda, UAAP Sports.TV)

Demolish Jericho

That didn’t go well either for the Bulldogs, to say the least. Jericho Cruz had 18 points; 50% from the three-point area. His NU counterpart, Bobby Ray Parks Jr. only had 15 points. Most of them were from the free throw line. Meaning, Adamson had a good time defending Parks and he struggled when National-U needed him the most.

Get Offensive

As I’ve said before, there was a lot of shooting going on but none too many scoring. Imagine, they threw the ball to the ring 66 times and could only convert 24 of them. That’s 36.4 FG%! Their opponent, on the other hand, had a good time from the field, getting 50% of their attempts in. That makes me question my pre-season article. Where is National University Bulldogs’ shooting?

Final Thoughts

A wake up call for the Bulldogs. (Photo Credit: Inboundpass.com)

A wake up call for the Bulldogs. (Photo Credit: InBoundpass.com)

Spin.ph reported that the NU players left the arena around 9 pm—that’s two hours after the game. The article said that they had an impromptu players’ meeting. “It was a good conversation to really work on personal stuff. More than anything, it’s about wanting the game more. It was a great talk. It was about knowing our roles better and really have to play together for the most part,” Parks also said that the coaches didn’t know about this meeting. To me, it was a good gesture from Parks and an even better wake up call for the team. I feel like there has been a lot of pressure for the team since coming into the season there were high expectations from them and it rattled them that they have such big shoes to fill. They had become stiff. All they have to work on now is getting back their magical touches they had back in summer. In the same report, the 6’2” NU off-guard said that, “I see a big part in me on that. I’m getting triple team out there and I really have to show more on trying to create more for the team and play one another, not just me but the whole team,” which made me happy because he was finally acknowledging the defensive strategy the other teams have been putting down on him and I hope that after this, they could work out how to help him out on offense.

They have one more game before closing out round one and one more full round before the final four. If they make some adjustments and settle down on their roles in the team, it will be a better run for the Bulldogs.

The guy wearing NU jersey #15 noted that, “It is still early in the season but I still believe in this team,” believe me when I say, I do too. Breathe. Relax. The NU community is right behind you and we still believe in you 100%.