To the surprise of no one, the UP Fighting Maroons were clobbered by Ateneo Blue Eagles, 75-86, sending them solo at the bedrock of team standings as La Salle has decided to leave them. Unlike in their first two outings where they can’t stay competitive for the entire duration of game, UP showed tremendous amount of resilience for four quarters this time that it would lead you to wonder if they are now starting to find their groove and finally living up to their moniker as the Fighting Maroons.
Just like in the first two games of Season 77, UP started out strongly. Mark Juruena, unarguably the best UP player in this match, led the charge for the Fighting Maroons and was sharp on both ends of the court. He was very decisive in his actions (unlike against NU) as he continuously attacked the Atenean bigs inside while he created UP’s offense off the dribble from the outside. On defense, UP’s 2-3 zone may have been beaten by the barrage of the three-pointers from Blue Eagles early on; however, the individual defensive brilliance by Gingerich has stymied Ateneo’s main offensive weapon in Kiefer Ravena for majority of the game.
The good start of UP was sustained through the second quarter, thanks to the offensive spark provided by bench guys like Kyles Lao and Henry Asilum, who had a great early second quarter but threw a lot of bricks for the rest of the game.
In the third quarter where UP has fumbled in the past two games, Ateneo attempted to break away. And they did for a moment as they scored a number of points off UP turnovers (thanks to their fullcourt press) and managed to go to the charity stripe on numerous occasions (thanks to the plethora of UP fouls). But the Fighting Maroons made a good run for their money and kept on fighting back to erase the deficit. However, another huge barrage mounted by the Blue Eagles in the closing stages totally wiped off any chance of a UP victory.
Individual Offensive Ratings
Reviewing the Keys to the Game
GRAB A FAIR SHARE OF REBOUNDS
By simply looking at the numbers above, it can be seen that this is the best rebounding game of Fighting Maroons this season. Thanks to a less daunting frontline of Ateneo (compared to UE and NU), Juruena and JR Gallarza have a relatively easier battle for the boards. However when you found out that Ateneo has managed to clobber almost half of the potential offensive boards and when Arvin “The Big Chill” Tolentino, who is not known for his rebounding, managed to finished the game with rebounding splits of 23/9/17, you really have the right to question whether the Fighting Maroons did really exert enough efforts to grab the boards or not.
THE STORY OF TURNOVERS
|Turnover Rate (TOs per 100 possessions)|
Unlike in the two previous games, UP committed a lot of turnovers in this one. No thanks to Ateneo’s fullcourt press, UP piled up a lot of turnovers especially in the third quarter where the Blue Eagles created a little separation from the Fighting Maroons. And they paid an enormous prize for these errors as Ateneo scored 24 huge points off turnovers for the entire afternoon.
CAN THE ROOKIES STEP UP?
I like the fact that coach Rey Madrid rewarded rookies Gelo Vito and Diego Dario for their impressive display in the previous game. And once again, they made the most out of it as they provided necessary spark off the bench. Dario performed well in his playmaking chores while he even ate some minutes from the mad veteran point guard Mikee Reyes.Vito, meanwhile, had brilliant moments in the offense which include a nifty entry pass to a cutting Kyles Lao and a spin move for a layup against the defending Arvin Tolentino.
Without a question, this is the best game we have witnessed from the Fighting Maroons this season. And they will only get better as this season progresses. They’ll get accustomed to the their offensive and defensive schemes more and they’ll get to know the tendencies of their teammates better. We can only hope that all of these materialize finally to a victory which has been eluding UP since the end of first round in Season 75.