It wasn’t a story we were unfamiliar with when talking about UP – they keep the game close (or “close”) for the better part of the second half. They’ll suck in the third quarter and then stage some form of “comeback” in the fourth quarter which will ultimately fail. There were only two games where UP trailed by double digits entering the second half – that lopsided loss against FEU and the game after that versus NU.
I wasn’t panicking at all when UP was up by one entering the second half (the first time they did that this season, actually), especially being up by one after hitting a lot of ridiculous looking shots such as Pascual’s stepback three, multiple Marata heaves from the parking lot and a couple of missed layups from Ateneo (I’m looking at you Kiefer!).
Not much to see here guys. Same team, same result. On to the numbers.
Graphs, Tables, Numbers
Individual Offensive Rating
Reviewing the Keys to the Game
Ateneo did what they did well over the last four games – play stingy defense, dominate the paint defensively and offensively and just run their offense to a tee.
Ateneo allowed UP to score just 80.6 points per 100 possession. That’s as stingy as it can get, UAAP or not. They didn’t allow UP to attack the paint. Yes, UP’s insistence on taking some pretty horrible shots played into it, but Ateneo’s defense was spot on. Watch how the weakside dropped down to the paint and zoned up well when Ateneo trapped hard on screens. UP only took 29.7 percent of their shots from inside — that’s a very low number of attempts from the best place to shoot. Moreover, UP only made 8 of their 19 attempts – good for 42.1 percent. Also, Ateneo allowed UP to rebound just 25.6 percent of their misses and allowed them to score just five points of those rebounds. That’s about as good as it can get when we’re talking about “defending” the paint.
Take Everything from the Inside
To further the Numb/Encore point, Ateneo also took it upon themselves to attack the paint. 46.8 percent of their shots came from the inside, where they made a healthy 58.6 percent (17 of 29) of their attempts. Even the normally struggling Golla found a way to contribute in this department making an up-and-under. WAIT, GOLLA?!
Our starting back court was a big reason for this. More on this in the Game Notes.
In the End
In the End, all the struggles we as a fan base endured in the first part was well worth it (yes, a three-game losing streak is a struggle already for a fan base that’s been spoiled by five championships). Now that everybody is in the role they were comfortable with, all the little things that no one noticed in the start are shining through – Newsome’s stingy defense (I’ll have an article on this soon enough), Juami’s evolving dribble drive game based around his shooting, Buenafe’s ability to be a facilitator on the elbow line extended and the bench mob (Von, Elorde, Tolentino and Erram) getting comfortable playing with each other.
No one talked about those things because there were far more important things to talk about (our offense, our defense, Kiefer’s health). But it’s about time we took notice of those now that the big things are finally going well.
Game Notes and Other Observations
1. Our point guard duo continuous to impress – moreso for Juami. Elorde had a pretty good game orchestrating the offense. It wasn’t a mastery but it was adequate enough that he wasn’t a detriment on one side.
2. Juami on the other hand is growing right before our eyes. He was merely a spot-up shooter last year (behind Kiefer, Salva and Slaughter’s shot creation) and when asked to create, he usually had trouble with the pressure – poked balls from behind, wrong kickouts, dribbling out of bounds. And I talked a lot about the early season injury to Kiefer would be a blessing in disguise because Juami would be given more responsibility and would hopefully grow more comfortable in that role. He did, and we’re slowly reaping the benefits.
3. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Kiefer’s subtly wonderful performance. Besides his shot creation (which is still not there despite the five assist and 34.8 percent assist rate he posted today), I think Kiefer’s in-your-air-space, I-am-going-to-marry-you defense that causes headache for ballhandlers (who eventually relent under his physicality and long arms) is one that was missed a lot. Don’t get me wrong, I still love me some Von and Elorde but those guys aren’t just the same as Kiefer – who wound up with three steals.
4. Other than his three point shooting, Kiefer’s offensive game (especially his dribble game) isn’t yet where I think it could be. Last year, we saw Kiefer slice an opposing team’s pick-and-whatever defense to shreds. This year, I have yet to see the same first step that he had (and the savvy) he once had. Probably a big reason is the injury and his decision to bulk up to play more in the post.
5. With regards to UP, they run some new things into their sets (some double handoff at the top of the key) and they exploited Ateneo’s aggressive traps off the pick and roll. Marata got some open threes out of this. Ball and Soyud also got some driving lane in the impossible chance that Marata passed the ball. But by and large, UP is still the same team – not in-sync (at multiple points in the game, two or three UP players were clumped up together), no identity (are they a primarily defensive team or an offensive team) and seemingly no strategy. Which is sad, tweak Soyud’s shot selection (curbing out those horrible stepback jumpers and in-your-face midrange jumpers he loves to take) couple with his improved rebounding and UP has a decent starting center in place. Ball’s always been awesome (his name notwithstanding). That’s a really solid 1-2 punch inside. Lao has a future as an off-the-bench sparkplug (with potential for even more). Marata, for all his defensive shortcomings and disgusting shot selection, is a shooter through and through. I think placed in the right and rigid system, those guys can eke out at least a win or two over eight games. Sadly, that’s not the case.
6. Last note for the day and just a #AllTheLOL type of a bullet point. Don’t believe how horrible of a defender Marata is? Watch this:
All kinds of lolz.
Ateneo’s next game will be on Wednesday against the Growling Tigers. Yes, another weekday game. Pray to the Gods that they grant us more luck.