For three quarters, the University of the Fighting Maroons made it an interesting affair until the National University Bulldogs unleashed a fourth quarter storm that can not be withstood as they absorbed their fourth loss in as many games, 60-74, last July 14 at Mall of Asia Arena.
Trailing at the end of first half by ten, 39-29, the Fighting Maroons emerged from the dugout energized and revitalized with Joseph Marata leading the team as he sizzled for eight points, including two three-pointers, to cut down the lead to six at the end of third canto, 53-47.
However, NU made a 10-1 run to open the fourth quarter, thanks to their spitfire playmaker Gelo Alolino who poured four points and scattered five assists in that quarter. Meanwhile, UP’s offensive had gone cold in the fourth quarter as they only converted four of their 16 field goal attempts.
Marata paced the Maroons with 14 points. Raul Soyud had a monstrous outing with 10 points and 20 rebounds while rookie Kyles Lao scored 11 points from the bench.
Bobby Ray Parks led the Bulldogs attack with an all-around game of 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Alolino filled the stat sheet as well with 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
With the loss, UP remains at the cellar of the team’s standings at 0-4 while NU is tied with UST at the second spot with 3-1 win-loss slate.
Review of the Keys to the Game
Free Kyles Lao
Kyles was able to play 23 minutes this time, nine more than he got versus FEU. As expected, he was relentlessly attacking towards the basket on his way to 11 points. He could have scored more if not for those sorry missed layups. UP needs Kyles Lao more than 23 minutes of basketball. He is one of the best players in this team. Coach Ricky Dandan has to properly managed his playing time. Utilize him more. There’s a lot of more juice to squeeze from him.
With the departure of Mikee Reyes and the unimpressive play lately of Henry Asilum, I think it is time for UP to entertain the idea of playing him the point guard position. He is a decent ballhandler. With his knack for penetrating towards the basket, I think he can facilitate the dribble and drive offense that they employ. With him manning the 1-position, UP can put a good defender like Agustin Amar and Kyle Suarez at the off guard position.
Get those rebounds like they did against FEU
UP was edged out in the rebounding department, 42-49. Raul Soyud had a monster rebounding game with splits of 23/41/31; however, no other Fighting Maroon had more than four rebounds. Meanwhile, NU had at five players with at least five boards, led by Emmanuel Mbe with 12.
Less threes please
It seems already an addiction for them as they jacked up 25 attempts at the three-point territory in this game. What is horrendous is that they only managed to convert five of those. Marata did his best impersonation of Martin Reyes as he splashed 2-10 from the downtown while backup point guard Jason Ligad did his best impersonation of Mike Silungan with five three-point attempts, converting none. Yikes.
Joseph Marata vs. Bobby Ray Parks
Despite struggling offensively, Parks managed to find ways to score as he attacked towards the basket and fished for fouls. He only scored two field goals but he had a feast on the free throw line as he converted 14 of the 16 attempts. He also managed to grab rebounds and dish his wide open teammates.
Meanwhile, Marata did differently. Way differently. Aside from that explosion in the third quarter, he was struggling offensively especially in the fourth quarter where he was 0-3 from the downtown. He had little contribution aside from scoring with three rebounds and two assists.
It is understandable that Dandan utilized his entire rotation aside from Paul Harris as he tries to find the best lineup possible. He also wants to sustain their energy for the entire game. Amar had a pretty decent game on first start, especially on the defensive side as he had the unenviable task of guarding the two-time reigning MVP.
From the get go, the Bulldogs was relentlessly attacking the basket and managed to get 28 fouls from UP. NU benefited from this scheme as they were able to get 40 free throw attempts, making 30 of those. It is really hard to win if you allow your opponents to take 40 free throws. Nevertheless, we cannot take away the fact that UP gave a good fight especially in the third quarter. They can take that as a moral victory.