Talks of another 0-14 season for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons won’t extinguish anytime soon, especially if the team itself continuously adds fuel to the fire.

The one-sided Battle of Katipunan* continues as the Fighting Maroons suffered a 72-64 setback against the five-time defending champions Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles last July 21 at Mall of Asia Arena.

Third quarter turned out to be the pivotal stage of the game as Ateneo outscored UP, 19-10, largely credited to the resurgence of Kiefer Ravena who poured nine of his 15 points in that canto. The lead ballooned to much as 17 in the fourth quarter, 63-46, but UP made another one of their infamous last hurrahs, as Joseph Marata put up an 8-0 run on his own to trim the margin to eight, 70-62, with 1:49 remaining.

The re-entry of Chris Newsome in the closing moments turned out to be the finishing move for Ateneo as he clamped down  Marata and sealed the fate of both teams with an alley-oop slam dished by Juami Tiongson.

Marata sizzled for the Maroons as he put on a career-high 22 points while Chris Ball registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Soyud barely missed another double-double with 8 and 14.

Reviewing Keys to the Game

Rebounds, rebounds, and more rebounds

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The table above pretty much underscores the fact that UP was outrebounded once again. UP’s frontline Raul Soyud and Chris Ball delivered the boards  with 14 and 10 rebounds respectively. However, others did not contribute much in the rebounding department. Aside from Soyud and Ball, no other UP player had more than three rebounds. The case was different for Ateneo – they leaned on gang rebounding  as five players had at least five rebounds apiece, including point guard Tiongson who had eight, including four offensive rebounds. Four offensive rebounds! Only Soyud (who is a center, though small center, as the TV commentator kept on saying)  had more offensive rebounds (5) than him. I have nothing but respect and adoration for Juami.

It is also important to note that during the third quarter, where Ateneo made a huge rally, UP was outrebounded 17-9, including a 7-3 disadvantage in the offensive rebounds.

Playmaking duties

Coach Ricky Dandan put up his fifth different starting lineup in five games this season as he thrusted rookies Paul Desiderio and Kyles Lao into the starting backcourt, along with occasional starters Marata, Ball and Soyud. However, he got little from this experiment as Desiderio had only three points and one assist while Lao failed to play to his standards. Backup point guard Henry Asilum had more turnovers (5) than points, rebounds and assist combined (two points, two rebounds, no assist). Jason Ligad had a solid outing with 10 points.

The entire team only had eight assists. That’s two more than Tiongson’s total. (I’m slowly becoming a fan of Juami. ) Needless to reiterate, that’s very few. What’s even alarming is that your supposed playmakers (Asilum,  Desiderio, Ligad, and perhaps Lao) had only combined for one assist.  However, I don’t think they’re the ones to blame for that. I’d say it’s more of the way this offense is run this season. This squad is heavily relying on Joseph Marata and his isolation plays. It really stagnates the offense of the team whenever he touches the ball. One might argue with me that out of UP’s eight assists in this game, Marata had four.  This is not because he is damn selfless but because he was forced to find the open teammate whenever he is being double teamed. But whenever he found some space and daylight to shoot, he gladly took it.

Stay away from threes

Of course they didn’t. They love  jacking up those threes.  Though, they had a decent outing in the three-point area, shooting 7-24 (29%). It wasn’t lights out shooting but it was fair enough, unlike the way they shoot threes in the previous two games. Desiderio and Ligad had one each while Marata dropped two in the fourth quarter when UP gallantly put on a final stand.

Final Thoughts

1. Here’s a breakdown of Joseph Marata’s numbers in this game.

Marata

Clearly, he got intimated by the length and athleticism of Newsome. He opted to dish to his teammates when he was double-teamed by Newsome and another Ateneo defender. Note also that Newsome was on the bench when he had his eight-point explosion in the fourth quarter. However, when Newsome returned to the game, he went 0-3 from downtown.

2. Jason Ligad is one fearless rookie. He made only three of his attempts, but his energy and his ability to take good shots should earn him more minutes in the coming games especially now that other guards like Asilum and Desiderio are not really playing well.

Maroons

Jason Ligad’s good performance against Ateneo is a silver lining for UP. (Photo Credit: PinoyExchange.com)

3. Kyles Lao has to improve his defensive game if he wants to have more minutes. He was clearly outplayed by Ravena in this game. I remember an instance when Ravena was posting him and then he spinned to the right for a scoop. Sadly, Lao can’t do anything but stare.

4. Enough of the isolation plays. Coach Dandan should design more plays that will give more ball rotation. Its as obvious as Voldemort’s nose that every UP possession now goes in the hands of Marata.

5. If Dandan has to utilize his bench players, he might as well use his other bigmen. I’m referring to Andre Paras and Andrew Harris. I don’t know why he’s not using them. Both are able-bodied and can play inside. Both can give rebounds that UP is clearly not able to do decently since the Mesozoic era. If Julius Wong is given playing time, why not give them also?

*Clearly, Katipunan is  yours, Ateneo. This is not battle-worthy. But we still have Maginhawa, Philcoa and Krus na Ligas.