UP Fighting Maroons def. UE Red Warriors, 87-58
Juan Gomez de Liano, UP (16 points, 3/5 3FG, 7 rebounds, 6 assists)
Sophomore slump? Looks like it’s not in Juan’s vocabulary. He started Season 81 looking like a well-oiled machine and was the most efficient fighting Maroon out there in terms of offense. But what’s most impressive about him was how he showed improved court vision (S80 average: 2.5apg). Those nifty passes to Kuya Javi? What a thing of beauty. If he continues this type of play, his declaration of no less than a Championship for the Maroons this season won’t be far from turning into reality.
Bright Akhuetie, UP (15 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks)
Initially, I wasn’t too impressed with how Bright performed. He didn’t look as dominant as expected, especially when you consider UE didn’t even have any big close to matching up with him. But with more thought, my opinion changed. By all accounts did he have a solid debut for UP. Aside from the numbers, what impressed me more was his discipline to do the little things: set screens, draw the defense, crash the boards the 2nd chance opportunities. This was key for UP, and it showed.
David Murell, UP (6 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals)
He can fly. But even more impressive: his defense. His honest, man-to-man defense on Alvin Pasaol was huge down the stretch for UP.
Jojo Antiporda, UE (9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal)
All eyes were on Air Sambokojin, but Jojo Antiporda did some sneaky good things that deserves attention. There were no rookie jitters from Antiporda, as he was integral in the 1st half surge the Red Warriors had. His +/- number of -9 was better than that of starting guard Philip Manalang (-32), certainly impressive for a rookie who just played his first game.
- Consistency. UP had a strong start to the game courtesy of their stifling defense resulting into fast-break opportunities. However, UP was not able to sustain that type of intensity on defense and the hustle department. As a result, UE was able to crawl back and even take the lead at one point in the 1st half. But come the 2nd half, good thing for the Maroons, they were able to go back to the things that enabled their 10-0 start lifting them past UE for a 29-point win.
- In-game adjustments. Despite the 29-point loss, the Red Warriors definitely gave the Maroons a scare. UE was able to throw UP off guard with various defensive sets coupled with different kinds of full-court traps. As a result, they were getting stops that led to fast break points. Problem was, UE was not able to sustain it. On the other end, UP has to be better at this. When Coach Joe Silva mixed it up and threw them a zone defense, the Fighting Maroons weren’t able to immediately adjust. The ball just kept swinging at the top of the key with not much movement was being done inside. Off-the-ball screens weren’t being utilized too much as well during the first half, which could have freed up shooters. Good thing Coach Bo and the Fighting Maroons got to adjust during the second half, but versus better teams, waiting up until halftime won’t cut it.
- Bench Mob. It was a good day for the starters of UP with four of them finishing in double figures. It was definitely impressive, but you can’t rely on your starters alone. As I said in my S81 Preview, UP needs their bench mob to perform well for them to have a higher chance of success. Versus, UP’s bench only scored 29 percent of their team’s final output with two guys scoring almost 70 percet of that. Javi Gomez de Liano top scored with 10 points, but aside from him, no one had a significant contribution off the bench for the Maroons. Gelo Vito had seven garbage time points and Digeo Dario, JD Tungcab, and Will Gozum were only able to produce two points each off the bench. If UP plans on beating elite teams, bench production is key and their performance then just won’t cut it.