Learning from the mistakes of the previous game against the league leader FEU Tamaraws, the UST Growling Tigers deployed as much players as they could to avoid another end game collapse caused by fatigue. Coach Pido Jarencio experimented with his line-up by fielding in a total of 13 players in their duel against the cellar dwelling UP Fighting Maroons. The experiment seemed to be a success as the untested bench players performed well enough to protect the Tigers lead while allowing their starters to rest.
After a week-long lay off, the Tigers have a jam-packed schedule with another game set on Saturday to complete their Season 76 Round 1 run. This dreadful schedule of the Tigers will take its toll on the players that’s why the long rotation that was utilized by Jarencio against the Fighting Maroons was just a brilliant move. He not only preserved the energy of the starters but he was also able to gauge the bench players’ performance.
Magnitude of this Win
As highlighted in my pre-game post, winning this game will provide the Tigers a little breathing room and will somehow separate them from the suffocating standings battle consisting of the teams in the middle. If for instance UST failed to win over UP, the former will be on a 5-team tie with DSLU, UE, NU, and AdU, a scenario that could possibly drastically drag them out of top four by the end of round 1. At least with this win even if they lose (knock on wood) to the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles, the worst case scenario is that they’ll be tied with somebody in that second spot, depending on the outcome of the games on Saturday (July 27) and Sunday (July 28).
Reviewing Keys to the Game
Abdul needs help from the outside
Hooray! The Growling Tigers were able to break the 40% barrier in eFG by tallying a 46.6% effective field goal percentage (comparable to the average eFG of FEU Tamaraws). This is only their second time to record a 40%+ eFG (the first one was against UE) which manifests how awful the shooting of the Tigers have been in this season. Although UST still struggles with their rainbow shots, only hitting two 3-point shots (courtesy of Clark Bautista) out of 12 tries, those two beyond the arc conversions came when the Tigers needed them the most. Both of those threes were made when the UP Fighting Maroons were making a run at the end of the first and second half.
Another commendable stat for UST that related to their shooting was their shot distribution and conversion. I really liked the shot selection of the Tigers (I just love seeing a shot distribution wherein %ATR > %MID > %3PT. I feel safer this way, more shots at high percentage ATR and lesser attempts at 3PT.) and I am happier that they are hitting a decent shooting percentage from the perimeter. Something that they are not consistently doing this season. With extra shooting sessions that I am expecting from the Tigers (extra shooting tips and sessions from coach Pido please) and with the return of Jeric Teng in the second round, I am hoping that this percentage will still rise up.
|Shot Distribution||Shot Conversion|
Make up for the Boards
A check mark for the Tigers. Even though they were missing their shots, they were able to get the offensive rebounds 52.4% of the time. Overall they outrebounded the Fighting Maroons on 46-39 count. Kevin Ferrer, Aljon Mariano, and Karim Abdul combined a total of 24 boards. A team rebounding effort that Abdul has been missing in their previous games.
Marata as a Marked Man
The Tigers failed to stop Samuel Marata but they were able to limit him to less than 20 points and to a less than 30% usage rate. He only managed to score 16 points at 28.5% usage rate. Enough for the Tigers to deny the Fighting Maroons their first win.
This is such a good win for the España based cagers as they not only secured the second spot but they were also able to pace their starters. Most importantly, they will be facing the peaking Ateneo Blue Eagles without much pressure and coming off a win.