The FEU Tamaraws were draining threes left and right. Every other score for them seemed to be a triple. Not only were they scorching behind the three-point line, everyone seemed to be in on the act which was a good sign for the team. The NU Bulldogs were struggling on offense. Credit goes to the Tamaraws for forcing the Bulldogs to take long contested jumpers. FEU had a 28-16 lead by the end of the first. NU was in trouble, only the points from free throws were keeping them alive.
It was pretty much the same story up to the third quarter. FEU was draining threes, ended the game with a spectacular 15/29 shooting from three. NU was struggling to score, bricking a lot of their three point shots ending up with 5/24 from three. The Bulldogs were still aggressive even though being down by a huge margin, getting to the line and shooting 28/32 free throws for the game. At the end of the third, the score was 68-48 and it seemed insurmountable, FEU was looking at a 5-0 advantage in the standings.
As we all know, anything can happen in basketball. NU sparked a marvelous comeback scoring 35 points in the quarter. FEU looked lackadaisical and were not putting a body on NU’s big men. This lead to a 19-7 rebounding difference in favor of NU. Mbe was cleaning up the offensive rebounds and scoring easy putbacks. From a 20-point lead, it was suddenly a 4 point deficit for NU. Then Terrence Romeo, being the spectacular player that he is, decided to take over the game. He made a clutch lefty layup to bring the lead to six points and iced the game with two free throws to extend the lead to four with 5 seconds left. FEU was successful in holding off the NU comeback.
Review of the Keys to the game
Run and Gun Tams
It was kind of surprising for me to see that FEU ended up with only four fastbreak points, but it didn’t really matter much for most of the game when they were shooting a lights out 15/29 from three (51.7%). They did a good job though in getting turnover points, 14 TO points for the game. The main reason for their offensive brilliance was their unselfishness. They finished with a collective 19 assists for the game. It was encouraging to see the FEU Tamaraws, who were often associated with isolation sets and one-on-one basketball, become a collective unit that was unselfish and just focused on getting a win. Every player that went in the game scored for FEU. They distributed the ball well and it was a delight for any FEU fan or any basketball fan in general.
Control Batman and Robin
Mbe and Parks got their superstar numbers, although Parks had an off-shooting night with a 6/20 performance from the field. They combined for a total of 53 of the 83 NU points. They were constantly at the line making a combined 24/27 free throws. They played well enough to almost win the game. I thought FEU did an amazing job on Parks though. They also did a pretty satisfactory job on Mbe up until the fourth quarter where Mbe was pretty much granted access to all offensive rebounds and converting them into putbacks. It was a bit disappointing seeing the FEU Tamaraws taking it easy in the fourth instead of flooring the gas pedal. The FEU defense did a great job on the rest of the NU team though. They were a combined 11/40 from the field (27.5%).
Bait NU into shooting threes
NU shot below average from three, ending up with 5/24 (20.8%) behind the three point line. It was a pretty good job for the FEU defense to force NU to take 24 three point attempts. I’m sure the FEU coaching staff realized this was one of the main weaknesses of NU and kudos to them for exploiting it. Robin Roño shot pretty well though and I guess I was wrong about his three point shooting. He shot 3/6 (50%), and was a 33.3% shooter last year.
Since FEU’s offense is pretty much perimeter-oriented, I’ve been waiting for them to have a game where they can’t find anything away from the basket. Most of the time though, they’ve shot really well and when they haven’t, they’ve been pushing the ball on the fastbreak to get easy buckets. They’ve been shooting an excellent 45/140 from three so far (32.1%, league average around 26%). It makes me wonder if it’s inevitable to get a loss from an off-shooting night.
Seeing the deficit being at 20 points by the end of the third, I was almost sure FEU would win its first rebounding battle of the season (34-30 FEU rebounding edge by end of 3rd). Then NU crushed them 19-7 in the fourth quarter and it was pretty much disappointing. There’s going to be cause for concern since rebounds are so important to the game of basketball and winning. The effort of the Tamaraws on the boxouts in the fourth quarter were also worrisome.
This was a big win for FEU with NU being regarded as one of the strongest teams in the UAAP. This was a good experience for them. They now know they’re capable of beating most teams in the league. Its up to them to continue to be hungry, work on their weaknesses and be ready. I have a feeling Coach Nash Racela will still keep this team motivated. 5-0 has got to feel really good. Enjoy the ride FEU fans!