And then there were four.
In order to determine who among the last four contenders would face off in the King of the Hill tournament Finals, we set up a few guidelines on how the finalists were chosen:
- Each writer makes their pick from their respective regions
- They then give their honest assessment of who they think would win the matchup that includes the player from their region
- The writers give a prospective final score which is averaged with the score given by their counterpart to determine which player will advance
- In case of a tie, the editorial board decides who goes onto the Finals.
Thirdy Ravena vs. Soulemane Chabi Yo
Kyle Reiner Pineda’s take
Thirdy is by far the most decorated UAAP player right now amongst the remaining players. Whether he is against a speedy guard or a versatile big, he can hold his own with his gifted physique and skillset.
Against UST’s Chabi Yo, the Blue Eagle will have his work cut out for him having a five-inch height disadvantage. The current UAAP Season MVP will have his height, scoring ability, and post-up game going for him as he tries to bully his way for the win. This will be Ravena’s toughest matchup in the tournament by far but it is very hard to bet against the King Eagle. While he might have difficulty finishing in the paint with Chabi Yo’s frame, he has a respectable jump shot that he can rely on when he needs to. On defense, Thirdy has enough build to withstand Chabi Yo’s post-ups and has the footwork advantage if the Thomasian decides to play the face-up game.
This game could go either way. In a one-on-one matchup, the player with the most all-around talent flourishes. Ravena has enough one-on-one moves in his bag and could give Chabi Yo a respectable effort on defense. In the end, though we expect Ravena to bring his A-game when he needs it most and show the Thomasian why he is the three-time MVP.
Kyle’s pick: Thirdy Ravena def. Soulemane Chabi Yo, 21 – 19
Colin Salao’s take
The argument for Chabi Yo winning this Final Four match-up is pretty similar to how he was able to defeat Jamie Malonzo in the Elite Eight: Chabi Yo’s mix of strength, length, and quickness are unlike any other that an uber-athletic wing like Thirdy Ravena will match-up within this tournament.
Against a player like Jamie Malonzo, Chabi Yo used his strength to muscle his way inside on the offensive end. On the other side of the ball, he was able to keep up with Malonzo’s drives, and had the wingspan to easily contest his jumpers. Simply put, Chabi Yo’s best skills were the perfect foil to Malonzo’s.
In a lot of ways, Thirdy’s best skills are similar to Malonzo’s… But just much, much better.
Let me say this: I would love to watch Thirdy and Chabi Yo go head-to-head. Can you just imagine those two athletes trying to push each other around? From a pure strength standpoint, I can’t imagine either gaining much of an inch.
However, Ravena is just too skilled to lose this one-on-one battle without a fight. He’s way more skilled than Malonzo, and he’s more skilled than Chabi Yo. I believe that the three-time UAAP Finals MVP has the ability to beat Chabi Yo off the dribble, but even when he doesn’t, he’ll have the footwork to maneuver his way into a few easy buckets in the paint. And while Thirdy’s jumper is still his weak point, he at least has the confidence to take them, and the leaping ability to nail them over the top of the UST FSA.
On the defensive end, I can only really picture much bigger players like Ange Koaume having the advantage over Thirdy. Someone like Chabi Yo — who is only marginally taller and likely less massive — won’t have the same success he would against the mortal wings of the UAAP.
Too bad he’s against the league’s closest thing to a superhuman.
Colin’s pick: Thirdy Ravena def. Soulemane Chabi Yo, 21 – 17
FINAL: Thirdy Ravena def. Soulemane Chabi Yo, 21-18
Angelo Kouame vs Dave Ildefonso
Ged Austria’s take
Kouame’s advantages over Dave would be his size, height, and strength. That’s it. It may look like it’s a huge advantage, but if you’re coming for the King of The Hill title, it will always be about buckets. Dave is a much better shooter, handler, and overall have the better skillset and arsenal over Ange. This is not a knock on Ange, this contest could go either way. It’s not like the entire contest would start from the post, Ange would have BBQ fest if that were the cade. But in a 1-on-1 set up where the ball starts from the top of the Key, Dave is winning it.
Dave is strong enough to contain Ange from the top of the key, while he’d completely be in his comfort zone with his shot-creating skills over Ange. Meanwhile Ange would have a hard time guarding from the perimeter as it’s not his best skill, compared to protecting the paint.
Ged’s pick: Dave Ildefonso def. Angelo Kouame, 21 – 17
Vinz Alcid’s take
Angelo Kouame going up against Dave Ildefonso would be a sight to behold. At first glance, because of the height difference, one could say that this is a David and Goliath-like matchup. But I will tell you now that it is not for two reasons.
First, Ildefonso will not be an underdog in this match. He is skilled enough to score against any opponent, including Kouame. He can shoot from the outside with ease, blow by his defender with a quick first step, and has enough dribbling skills to size his defender up. Ildefonso would hold his own against Kouame, size difference, and all.
But second and most importantly, is that if Kouame and Ildefonso went 1-on-1 against each other, it would not have the same results as that of the David and Goliath story. No. The David in this matchup would put up a fight but would eventually fall to the Goliath that is Angelo Kouame.
While the game has constantly evolved and we now live in a basketball world where shooting is the number one priority, the fact remains that basketball is a big man’s game. And that will be most evident once Ange and Dave meet head-to-head.
Kouame would be just too big and too strong for Ildefonso.
On offense, Kouame should be able to bully ball Ildefonso and score easy buckets down the block. He clearly has the superior physical strength and has the mobility to find his way inside the paint. He could just rise up for lay-ins with his soft touch or even totally wipeIldefonso out of the picture and dunk for a deuce.
Simply put, Kouame should and would dominate Ildefonso down the block. And even though he has the stroke from the outside, forcing his way inside and generating big boy buckets would be his recipe for success offensively.
While you can pinpoint Dave’s innate scoring ability and speed as advantages that he can rely on to generate his offense, Koaume’s defensive skill and versatility will cause problems for Dave which, I can’t see him scoring easily against Kouame. He would have to work hard for every basket against Kouame.
If Dave blows by him, Kouame is quick enough on his feet and recover to chase down Dave’s shot for a block. If Ildefonso settles for a step-back or a pull-up jumper off of a dribble size up, Kouame’s length should be enough to bother the shot.
Don’t get me wrong, Dave will sure score a lot in this game. He’s just that good of a scorer. But I have enough faith in Koaume’s defensive versatility to make crucial stops and eventually shot down Dave and seal the game.
Vinz’s pick: Angelo Kouame def. Dave Ildefonso, 21-17
FINAL: Tie between Angelo Kouame and Dave Ildefonso, 19-19
Humblebola Editorial Board’s take
Well would you look at that, overtime. Honestly, we saw this coming once Dave and Ange got matched up against each other for the Final Four. The two Ateneans (yup, Dave’s an Atenean again!) bring contrasting games to the table and also have their unique set of flaws. It’s those types of layers to this match-up which makes the clash much more interesting.
The case for Ange is pretty easy. He’s taller and arguably more athletic than Dave. Vinz said so himself, basketball is a big man’s game. It also helps Ange has the skill to complement his physical tools. His jumper is respectable for a big man and he has an adequate list of moves in the low post to attack defender one on one. His handle has also been improving, adding a different dimension to his already elite game.
But that’s the thing, most parts of his game are still developing. With Dave, you have a player who, while he still has his weaknesses, has a skill set that is arguably the most polished among UAAP wings.
From being a jump shooter during his early high school years, Ildefonso has transformed into a complete offensive beast. He’s the modern-day Danny Ildefonso in his own special way. Physically-gifted, bull-strong, talented, but most importantly, plays the position that’s most important in his era. During Danny I’s time, bigs lorded over basketball. Today, guards control the game.
That’s what makes Dave such an intriguing pick. He has the strength to go toe-to-toe against the larger Kouame, but his smaller height gives him more explosiveness when attacking the basket. Blend that with an offense filled with pull-ups, pivot moves, and off the dribble goodness, and you have yourself a machine that could very well be the best one-on-one player in the UAAP.
Ange is a good pick, he really is. But this is a one-on-one tournament. In this case, we’re going with Dave to meet Thirdy in the Finals for a clash between two of the best wings in Philippine Basketball today.