That was a plain and simple case of onslaught. Plain and simple. And alarming.
UP Fighting Maroons absorbed its third loss of the season as they were whipped by FEU Tamaraws, 75-57, last July 7 at Mall of Asia Arena.
UP were off to another poor start as Mike Tolomia scored seven points to lead the 10-2 early salvo for the Tamaraws. Terrence Romeo, who came off the bench, added seven points to race to a 23-12 lead at the end of the first half.
After converting 14 of the 28 three-pointers they attempted in their last game versus DLSU, the Fighting Maroons went 0-14 from the rainbow area after the first half and finished the game with a dismal 2-25 shooting.
The lead ballooned to as much as 29 in the third quarter. However, they made a valiant/too-little-too-late instigated run by UP’s reserves led by JR Gallarza and Agustin Amar as they put on a 17-0 run to trim the lead to 12, 62-50, with seven minutes left in the game. Romeo halted the run with five straight points as Tamaraws never looked back and coasted to their third straight win.
UP’s leading scorer Sam Marata, who was bugged with an ankle injury, was a non-factor in this game as as he poured in only four points on 1-8 shooting. Big man Raul Soyud, who came off the bench, was the only Fighting Maroon in double figures with 10 points.
Review of the Keys of the Game: The Four F’s
1. Fight for the Rebounds
This is a big check for the Fighting Maroons. After being annihilated in the battle of boards in their first two games, UP managed to outrebound FEU by seven, 61-54. Chris Ball dominated the battle of boards with 19 (eight offensive) while Raul Soyud had 10 (three offensive). Martin Pascual, JR Gallarza and Moriah Gingerich (whose sighting on the court is as rare as the sighting of a firefly on EDSA) had great contributions in rebounding as they combined for 17 boards (five offensive).
More rebounds, of course, create more possessions. However, UP did not capitalize from their rebounding advantage as they converted only 24 of their 84 attempts.
2. Feed Terrence’s circa 2012 ego.
Romeo’s stat line in this game: 20 points, 8-16 FG, 4-7 3PT, 12 rebounds, one assist. All of these in paltry 19 minutes from the bench. That is damn efficiency. In my game preview, I said UP should let him and the porcupine in his head be his former self – the individualistic one. However, he had a fair share of shot attempts with RR Garcia who had 19 attempts and Mike Tolomia with 13 attempts. Even though Terrence only had one assist, the ball rotation of FEU was stellar as the entire team racked up 16 assists in total.
3. Firepower from the bench.
Coach Ricky Dandan’s magic hugot came in too late when they were already in deep trouble. Amar and Gallarza provided much-needed hustle and energy in that 17-0 eruption. Andres Desiderio was steady as the backup playmaker.
What really intrigues me was Kyles Lao’s playing time, or the lack of it. Lao, who started in the last game, was replaced in the starting lineup by Julius Wong perhaps for defensive purposes. It really shocked me that Lao was not put into the court in the first quarter when almost all things went wrong. Lao was only inserted at the second quarter where he put all of his seven points. He then returned in fourth quarter and but he was a non-factor from there on.
4. Fafa Henry Asilum has to be the playmaker
Again, I apologize for forcing that “Fafa.”
Oh Henry. In his 22 minutes on the court, he had a two points, two rebounds and no assist. To sum up his performance in one word: dreadful. He’s now the starting playmaker of this team. The position is his to lose. Obviously, he has to come up with better games than this. Hopefully, Henry realizes the load he has to carry from now on.
Key Matchup Review
Kyles Lao vs. Mike Tolomia
Tolomia, who had 10 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes, got the upper hand in this one. His seven points in the first three minutes proved to be the first nails to UP’s coffin. That’s what we are expecting of him. Someone who can provide offense aside from the star players. That is Lao’s job as well but for some reason he was not given enough playing time to do his duty as he went away with seven points in 14 minutes of action.
This is a bad offensive game for UP. You simply cannot make 14 three-pointers every game to keep within reach. They are now living and dying with the threes. The team’s offense was at a loss as their leading gunner Marata struggled to make his shots. Asilum, being the playmaker that tagged to him, must find more ways to run the offense. It did not help UP’s interest that Lao had a limited playing time. He is their second best offensive weapon and their best slasher. He can provide instant offense as a fearless attacker towards the basket. I really don’t understand why he only played in second and fourth quarter.
If there is any silver lining that can be taken by UP in this game, it must be the better rebounding performances of their frontcourt. The task of getting those missed shot won’t be any easier any time soon as they’ll be facing NU Bulldogs on July 14.