By Aljo Dolores

Twelve Humblebola writers were asked to Power Rank all 8 of the UAAP teams up until this point of UAAP Season 82. Each first-place vote was worth 8 points, each second-place vote was worth 7 points and this continued all the way until the eigth-place votes worth 1 point (ex. 5 first-place votes, 3 second-place votes, 4 third-place votes = (5×8) + (3×7) + (4×6) = 85 points).

The teams were then ranked from 1 to 8 according to their total score.

In case of a tie, the team with the most votes of the higher place was the winner. 

Example: Team 1 would rank higher in this scenario

Team 1 – 100 points, 5 first-place votes

Team 2 – 100 points, 4 first-place votes

After ranking these teams, I separated them into respective tiers. To illustrate how each tier has done, I’ve associated songs with them. Rock songs, to be specific. Because this entire season has made people’s heads bang and bodies jump in thrill, excitement. 

Let’s rock and roll.

The Queen left everyone in dust (Queen – Another One Bites The Dust)

Ateneo Blue Eagles

The player from the other team walked down the court, his head held way down low. The crowd of blue and white was so loud he probably couldn’t hear the sound of his feet. He thought his guns were ready to go in the game.

He couldn’t be more wrong. Happy? Satisfied? No, not at all. Instead of hearing the chants from his alma mater, questions echoed throughout the arena. How long could his team stand the heat being handed over to them? Were they even ready for this kind of beating down? They tried to run, fight, and probably even hide. But no matter how much they resisted, nothing could stop the inevitable from happening: Ateneo unleashed hell on the court they were playing into.

Another one gone. Tab Baldwin started pacing closer to the opposing squad’s bench just before the buzzer went off. The Blue Eagles slaughtered yet another squad that stood on its way to the crown.

It was an all-too-familiar scene in the first round. The Blue Eagles kept coming like bullets that ripped to the sound of the coliseum’s beat. It was like a horror movie wherein the Song for Mary was playing on repeat as Tab’s crew went on a killing spree. No one’s safe in the UAAP. Whether you’re red, green, yellow or blue, Ateneo’s surely gonna get you, too.

Their games were far from shoot-outs though. Ateneo brought other teams to the ground not by scoring every chance they get, but by suffocating their foes on defense. Opposing teams had to bleed, even break their limbs just to put numbers on the board against the wall that the Blue Eagles built together.

The Blue Eagles let their opponents move on the court under their command like a marionette. Players were endlessly funneled inside the paint only to be crushed with a miss—or worse, a block. Teams unwillingly obliged to Ateneo’s terms, as none of them scored more than 70 points in the first round against the Blue Eagles. Six teams even suffered double-digit losses against the defending champions. 

Except perhaps for UST, no other school could match the defensive prowess of Ateneo. As a result, the first round went by as if Tab was just adding notch after notch on his playboard. Before you knew it, your school was added to the long list of poor creatures the Blue Eagles preyed upon.

And another one gone.

Another one bit Ateneo’s dust.

No stop signs, no speed limit (Highway to Hell – AC/DC)

UST Growling Tigers

Nobody knew what was coming. UST was supposed to be a young team heading into the season. Living easy, living free, playing without the pressure of racking up wins, still figuring out how to play Aldin Ayo’s mayhem system.

Well, nobody knew what’s coming except the Growling Tigers themselves.

In their second game, UST faced the UP Fighting Maroons. Yup, that’s the jacked-up version of the team that went to the finals last season. Sans Kobe Paras, they should still be a formidable team. There’s no way UST could’ve matched up against the high-profile stars.

Oh, to hell with UP’s credentials. The Growling Tigers took the wheel and went on full speed with reckless abandon. Oh, was that Mark Nonoy running at full speed? Oh, another Renzo Subido stepback triple? Rhenz Abando skied high for the layup! UST threw haymakers left and right to the point when UP couldn’t take the punches any more. Ain’t nobody from DIliman slowed them down. Aldin Ayo’s mayhem brought chaos to the Fighting Maroons. 

Down went the finalists. UST clinched their biggest win so far in this season. Just like that, they crashed this year’s Final Four party.

They’re still a young team though—prone to mistakes and rash decisions. After that blistering 2-0 start, they suffered three losses in their last five games. Still, not a bad position to be for a team that was considered a dark horse this season, right? They messed around and got ahead of other Final Four favorites to end the first round. Not to mention that the top MVP candidate this season dons the yellow and black.

How far can this team go? Will they soon go down, or will the go all the way to the promised land?

Nobody knows for sure, but it sure is fun to watch this young squad go full throttle as they drive along this highway to hell that is the UAAP.

Hey, it’s a long way! (It’s a Long Way to the Top – AC/DC)

UP Fighting Maroons

Five wins in seven games. It’s the best start UP ever had for what felt like a lifetime.

By all indications, Coach Bo is ridin’ down the highway en route to another finals show this season.

The first round was harder for UP than it looked, though. They needed all the breaks they could get just to get away with them. An off-game by a star. A late-game triple. A missed game-winner. A foul that could probably be debatable. They survived, escaped, saved, robbed, beat up opponents in five closely contested matches.

Don’t get me wrong, any team would gladly take that 5-2 record heading into the second half of the elimination. However, this is UP we’re talking about. This is the same team that went to a major improvement after reaching last season’s finals. While it’s true that this is the most talented team UP has assembled for decades, perhaps it’s time to admit that this team still has a long way to go before they could even reach the top of the league. Something must change for them to have a chance to get over the huge obstacle that is Ateneo.

It was just a year ago when the Fighting Maroons were the best offensive team in the league, moving the ball as if they were rockstars playing harmoniously for a band. Why they gave up such an effective system for stagnant sets would most likely remain a mystery. But one thing’s for sure: they need that same system once more.

No more wanting to be the star of the stage and screen. No team can expect success if their top scorer shoots as many attempts as his points, all while the other players do not get the touches they need. If they want to be the finals contender that they were last year, the Fighting Maroons should start to work together again.

The battle ain’t over yet. It’s still a long way to the top, but they better act fast if they want to rock and roll with the title on their hands to end Season 82.

Double down or fold it down (Ace of Spades – Motorhead)

FEU Tamaraws, DLSU Green Archers, Adamson Soaring Falcons

What’s your next move gonna be? Play for the high one? Dance with the devil? Just go with the flow?

With the same 3-4 record, FEU, La Salle and Adamson are now tangled in a high-stakes poker game. Every bet, every fold, every move will have repercussions on their chances to hang on to the fourth spot, perhaps reap even higher seeds for the Final Four.

In the second round, every little adjustment is a gamble.

Jerrick Ahanmisi continues to struggle shooting from deep. Will Franz Pumaren double stake on him finally hitting threes the way he used to last season, or will they start splitting his offensive load to the likes of AP Manlapaz and Jerom Lastimosa? 

Even with all the hype that surrounded their arrival, James Pado and Keyshawn Meeker were so far non-factors in the season. Will Jermaine Byrd double up on his two other one-and-dones, or will he quit on them and ride with La Salle’s good ol’ guns?

With key losses from last year’s lineup, the Tamaraws should have been lurking at the bottom half of the standings this season. Instead, they defeated two Final Four contenders to finish fourth in the standings. Can Olsen Racela push the ante even further with his ragtag pile of cards?

FEU, La Salle and Adamson will now have to play with the cards that were dealt to them. Whether you have a seven or the ace of spades, the difference between winning and losing might come down to who’s brave enough to double down on whatever they hold.

Will they make it or not? (Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi)

UE Red Warriors, NU Bulldogs

Rey Suerte rained down shots. Dave Ildefonso worked his game all day. They did it all in an effort to bring home wins for their respective teams, for the love they have for their schools.

Their efforts weren’t enough, though. Not even close. Seven games into the season, UE and NU are forced to hold on to whatever they got for now. Unfortunately, not a lot, as these teams have the two worst records after the first round.

“Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear.”

It isn’t hard to imagine Lawrence Chongson and Jamike Jarin being overly optimistic these days—the situation calls for them to be. Honestly, any dream about going the distance this season is close to running away. To say that they’re halfway there would be a lie—they’re not. In fact, they’re so damn far from making it past the elimination.

Given where they are in the standings right now, should they even give the Final Four their best shot?

Theoretically, it’s still possible for them to get to the next level. But to do so, both squads need all the stars to align for them. They need to win as many games as they can in the second round, all while hoping that the other teams would lose much more than they previously did. They might as well ask for hell to freeze over. Truth be told, their campaigns in this season are already livin’ on a prayer.

But who knows? Maybe trying will make a difference if they’ll make it or not.  So, just give the Final Four a shot.