We all miss basketball.  To cope with not having any real games played or not being able to play the game ourselves, many of us have turned to fantasy bookings, matchups and situational speculation. In this climate of social distancing and isolation the HumbleBola team brings to you, a fantasy matchup tournament of the best UAAP players of Season 82. One-on-one, no teammates, no screens, no cuts, no curls, just two amazing athletes, a ball, a net and 21 points.  

We take the 16 athletes who in Season 82, showed us that they have what it takes to break opponents down one-on-one. Who would reign supreme in this hypothetical King of the Hill tournament?  

Some ground rules before we get started: 

  1. We separated the bracket to four regions. They are according to what the HumbleBola team determined as the Top Four players of the UAAP this past season: The Ravena Region, the Chabi Yo Region, the Kouame Region, and the Paras Region. The respective players were also determined as the top speeds of their respective groups. 
  2.  The players for each region were determined by position. The Ravena Region consisted mostly of guards. The Chabi Yo Region were filled with forwards. The Kouame Region was the group for big men. Finally, the Paras Region was for wings. 
  3. What was considered in choosing each player: individual excellence, team success, and statistics.  
  4. Rules of each game are simple: Race to 21, 1s and 2s, loser’s ball, do or die. Why 21 and not 11? We wanted to make it as Filipino as possible. Bente-uno is peak Philippine Basketball. 

Time to start the fun! 

Round of 16: Ravena Region 

By Kyle Reiner Pineda 

#1 Thirdy Ravena vs #4 LJay Gonzales

Thirdy Ravena has arguably the best physique in this bracket, BY FAR.  In a 1-on-1 tournament it’s likely that he would take advantage of this in any matchup though the FEU stalwart is definitely no pushover.  The King Eagle would showcase the skillset he developed during his UAAP career with crafty pivots and polished offensive repertoire. He would, however, have to be careful with his dribble moves as LJay has a knack for picking pockets, averaging a steal per game in his rookie season. Ravena has the clear experience advantage and skill coming into the matchup but would have to be wary as an offensive blitz by the Tamaraw may throw off the favorite.   

LJay Gonzales is coming into the tournament as a wildcard. Being one of the most explosive guards on the court, he will have both the ball-handling and agility to test opponents regularly. The Tamaraw will put up a fight against the Blue Eagle with the footspeed and finesse to be able to finish at the rack with either hand. The guard has decent range which can keep Ravena honest on defense though his shiftiness remains to be his favorite mode of attack on offense. His game though is more showcased on a full-court setting where his speed and stamina are on full display. There’s a reason why he’s often compared to Jayson Castro. 

Result: LJay keeps this contest close until Thirdy uses brute strength to pull-away for a 21-15 victory. Both players will keep each other in check on defense with the Blue Eagle’s footwork and the Tamaraw’s hands. In the end, the size difference and experience let the Blue Eagle through the next round. 

FINAL: Thirdy Ravena def. LJay Gonzales 21-15 

#2 Renzo Subido vs. #3 Juan Gomez de Liano 

A Rematch of the Classic UAAP Season 82 semifinals. Guard versus guard. España versus Diliman.  

Renzo Subido is one of the few senior guards in the whole bracket. The two would have some familiarity with each other having matched up four times this season. The Thomasian’s shooting range and driving ability would be his main points of attack. He has proven he can find the angle to finish anywhere around the basket. The Growling Tiger also has the defensive aggressiveness and tenacity being under coach Aldin Ayo’s system. The senior is your go-to point guard when the team needs to anchor the ship after a momentum shift in a game. 

Juan Gomez de Liano has arguably the deepest “bag” of handles in this whole tournament. His playing style is perfectly suited for this type of a tourney with flashes of ball-handling and long-range bombs. The Fighting Maroon has 3×3 international streetball experience in his belt thus giving him a shot against anybody. He can score in bunches and would be the crowd favorite in the tournament. He would have to watch out for his reach in habits especially in a 1v1 setting though he usually offsets that with his offensive firepower.   

Result: Juan GDL’s streetball experience narrowly edges out Renzo Subido as the Fighting Maroon mounts a furious comeback to win 21-18. Revenge is best served cold as experience check out and the flashy guard brings out his #MambaMentality mantra. 

FINAL: Juan Gomez de Liano def. Renzo Subido 21-18 

Round of 16: Chabi Yo Region 

By Colin Salao 

#1 Soulemane Chabi Yo vs #4 Javi Gomez de Liano 

On paper, this match-up seems like an easy win for UST’s FSA from Benin. In his debut season in the UAAP, Chabi Yo powered through the competition en route to winning the MVP, so it’s easy to think he could simply trot to the Final Four of this hypothetical King of the Court. 

However, a 1on1 game negates a lot of Chabi Yo’s strengths. In the 5on5 setting of the UAAP, he scored a lot of his points off of offensive rebounds, lobs and the spacing and playmaking that teammates like Renzo Subido and Rhenz Abando provided. In a oneonone game, he’ll have to rely a lot on his post up ability to score points. He does have an underrated handle and may suddenly turn into a Pascal Siakim-like player in these games, but I’m not confident that he can dominate the same way he did in the UAAP. 

It’s even harder to believe that Chabi Yo can dominate against an opponent like Javi Gomez de Liano. Javi GDL stands at 6’5”, just an inch shorter than Chabi Yo, and also has the unique physical build of someone with both underrated size AND quickness. This leads me to believe that he can do a competent job of stopping Chabi Yo’s slew of post-ups. 

In fact, they matched up on several occasions during the UAAP 3v3 semifinals between UST and UP. This is a competition that I think mirrors King of the Hill the most, and you’ll see that Javi did an impressive job in stopping Chabi Yo. 

Now that I’ve made several arguments to convince you that Javi GDL will be an extremely difficult opponent for Chabi Yo, I will end by saying that just like in the Final Four of Season 82, UST will take the W. Chabi Yo will hound Javi GDL defensively, exposing his weak handle and forcing him to take several contested threes. Javi will hit a few triple to stay in the game, but he’ll eventually get worn down by Chabi Yo’s sheer strength and athleticism. 

FINAL: Soulemane Chabi Yo def. Javi Gomez de Liano 21-14 

#2 Jamie Malonzo vs #3 Will Navarro 

Your opinion on how this will play out really depends how good you think Will Navarro can be at creating his own shot. Navarro had a breakout campaign last season with the Blue Eagles, but playing under the team-first system of Tab Baldwin made it difficult for him to showcase the skills needed in a one-on-one setting. Considering Navarro played guard in Greece in high school, there may be an incredible individual scorer that the UAAP has just yet to see. 

The opposite can be said about Jamie Malonzo. While Malonzo was able to showcase his skills in the La Salle offense, there were times where it looked like he was even forced to do a lot more than his skill set could really handle. However, Malonzo was able to outplay a lot of the competition in his one and done year in the UAAP by virtue of being a freak athlete. Whether it was creating a highlight dunk or just simply getting to the basket faster than his defender, Malonzo’s physical advantage was often too much for the competition. 

That’s exactly why I would give him the edge of Will Navarro. Malonzo may not have that many moves available in his arsenal, and his playmaking and ball handling ability might actually just be on par with Navarro. But at the end of the day, his first step should give him enough of an advantage. 

FINAL: Jamie Malonzo def. Will Navarro 21-16 

Round of 16: Kouame Region 

By Aljo Dolores 

#1 Angelo Kouame vs #4 Alex Diakhite 

Angelo Kouame and Alex Diakhite were reliable centers for their respective teams in UAAP Season 82. They did so by being excellent in positioning well and creating opportunities for themselves as close to the basket as possible. They can cut, roll, seal and rebound their way to double-double performances. 

They work well on a standard basketball game where they don’t need to dribble to contribute. Ball handling is not their strongest suit, so they hide it by minimizing the need to bounce the ball to the floor on offense. Butin a one-on-one game, these guys are left to close the gap between them holding the ball and the hoop on their own. So, how will this game between two of the most dominant centers in the UAAP today go? 

For the 6-foot-8 Diakhite, he relies on operating with his back to the basket. Once he establishes his position, he will use his power and a few post moves in his pocket to score from the paint. Against your average UAAP player, that’s close to automatic. 

Even at 6-foot-10, Kouame is one of the most mobile big men in the league. He has great speed and footwork, and based on his short but sweet experiences of crossing the ball over the halfcourt line, he can dribble the ball pretty decently. This combination of power and mobility will allow him to have a wide array of options on offense—from backing down to dribbling his way to the hoop. 

Aside from that, Kouame has the better range between the two. While Diakhite can shoot decently up to the midrange, Kouame has a far more reliable range that can extend the defense close to the three-point area. As it is, the Atenean is way ahead of the competition. While they pretty much cancel each other’s post game, Ange can put that variety offense when needed. 

That’s not even the greatest concern for Diakhite in their matchup. He has to go up against the best shotblocker in the league. Given that Diakhite’s offensive game will be limited up to the around 10 feet, we can expect Kouame to send a handful of his opponent’s shots the other way. 

Overall, Kouame will dominate this game. Diakhite’s going to power his way a few times inside, maybe hit a few midrange shots. Still, the three-time champion is just be too much for him. Ange takes control from the get-go, scores three, four straight points on at least two separate occasions. 

Kouame ultimately wins this first-round matchup, 21-12. 

FINAL: Angelo Kouame def. Alex Diakhite 21-12 

#2 Bright Akhuetie vs #3 Justine Baltazar 

For centers, Akhuetie and Baltazar would be able to perform well in a one-on-one game. Both players can put the ball on the floor, create favorable situations for themselves, and put up shots up to around 15feet away from the basket. 

In his time with UP, Akhuetie has proven time and time again that he can take most of the defenders alone. With a wide body on a 6-foot-8 frame, he can outmuscle his opponents with relative ease. However, he’s also crafty enough to put up shots over taller centers.  

Even though he’s not used to isolation plays like Akhuetie, Baltazar has all the tools he needs to thrive on a singles’ match. He sure won’t throw his weight on his contemporaries in this region, but his range and mobility will more than make up for it. He has a reliable jumper which will force defense to commit to him even if he’s far from the basket.  

Akhuetie would dictate the outcome of this game, which might end up being influenced by his defense and stamina. While both players can stay in front of the ball, Akhuetie will have a huge advantage on Baltazar on the defensive end. Akhuetie’s known for his notorious ball-swiping ability, which will come in handy for the Season 81 MVP as he’s bound get a few extra possessions throughout the game. 

However, Akhuetie’s conditioning will be under the microscope if the game will drag on for too long.  

Seeing him overwork himself to the brink of exhaustion has been a normal sight to see in UAAP games. Now, this tournament will only be played on a half court, but take note that Akhuetie will have to defend the attacking Baltazar every single time. 

As such, this game will be hotly contested. Things start off with Bright taking over right off the bat. He would muscle his way into piso-piso scoring, and force Baltazar to commit a few turnovers. Baltazar would keeping it close at 12-7, thanks to his midrange jumpers. 

However, minutes of following Baltazar relentlessly just to stop him from getting hot with his jumpers slowly takse a toll on Akhuetie. Baltazar closes the gap at 18-18 as his opponent looks for second wind to end the match. Luckily for Akhuetie, he finds that last push in the nick of time, and score three of the last four points in the paint to win the game. 

Final score is at 21-19. Akhuetie advances to the next round, but not without huffing and puffing as if he ran a half-marathon. 

FINAL: Bright Akhuetie def. Justine Baltazar 21-19 

Round of 16: Paras Region

By Ged Austria 

#1 Kobe Paras vs. #4 Rhenz Abando  

Kobe’s size and height is definitely an advantage to Abando who’s barely 6’3”.  

Abando seems quicker and has a more consistent jumpshot, like we see in games. But the difference is, Abando’s shots are usually wide open or assists through catch and shoot. It may not be effective in a 1-on-1 setting as he’s not much of a shot creator. Kobe will win this matchup through size and athleticism.  

FINAL: Kobe Paras def. Rhenz Abando 21-15 

#2 Rey Suerte vs. #3 Dave Ildefonso

Suerte is a much more effective shooter and shot creator, compared to dave. That’s his bread and butter. Dave, meanwhile, has caught up in terms of offensive arsenal and skills. He made a big jump last season with NU. He has also gotten wider and stronger physically.  His skills are already almost on par with Suerte, but I’m giving this win to Dave since he’s physically stronger and a better defender.  

FINAL: Dave Ildefonso def. Rey Suerte 21-18