The pass by Juan GDL, the screen by Paul Desiderio, the jump by Simon Camacho, the shot by Bright Akhuetie. Plenty of things happened over the course of just two seconds, and fittingly, plenty of emotions were felt in the process. Question was, how did it all go? Why was it designed in such a manner? 

Let’s take it frame by frame, as we analyze Bright Akhuetie’s game-winner against Adamson.

The play starts off with Juan Gomez de Liano inbounding the ball, Bright Akhuetie, Jun Manzo and Jan Jaboneta outside the three-point arc, and Paul Desiderio in the paint.

Unsurprisingly, they put Simon Camacho on Desiderio, arguably their best and peskiest defender. In fact, the way the play was set up, it wasn’t crazy to think Desiderio would curl towards the outside for a three-point shot. Atin ‘to right?

Jaboneta and Manzo start off the play. Jaboneta curls towards the left wing, while Manzo *slowly* went towards the right. Bright remained steady. Paul also *slowly* moved towards Papi. Now, take a look at Papi.

As Jaboneta and Manzo made their move, his eyes were set on the two of them. This was understandable! UP as a team really tends to really on their guards. So a situation of Manzo maybe getting the ball and dishing it off after the initial pass (3.7 seconds is A LOT of time) wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. However, take a look at how he positioned his feet as the play developed:Papi was on his heels while this was ongoing. Compare that to how Camacho’s feet were positioned while handling Desiderio. As they always say when defending, STAY ON YOUR TOES. That especially applies in the clutch. ANYONE can be an option for a game winner. A misdirection here and there, some action involving decoys, anything. At the end of the day, you need one shot. Teams will double team the best options, so why not go for a completely unexpected guy to win the game for you, ESPECIALLY off a timeout?

Then comes the back pick by Paul Desiderio. Terrific timing too by Bright on his roll, as he only made his run the moment Paul had established position for his pick. That comes with practice (they mentioned that play was something they’ve been running in training), familiarity with teammates, and straight up nerves of steel. At the same time, take a look at this:

Two things: First, Papi actually knows Bright is running towards the rim. He had his eyes on him, which also meas his head was on a swivel. But it can’t be all head. You also need to have your feet ready, and they weren’t. He was on his heels earlier, and by the time Paul set the pick on Papi, he was still on his heels. It was too late to salvage anything.

Being blindsided by picks like that normally comes from lack of vision, but Papi had that. He was moving his head, with knowledge of where his man was, as well as other options. That was it though; knowledge. Since he wasn’t able to prepare the rest of his body to defend, he couldn’t catch up to the rolling Akhuetie.

Literally couldn’t catch up. It was GREAT pick by Paul even though he was hitting the bigger Sarr. He was strong, maintained good position, and it also helps Papi’s feet weren’t ready. This was a big part of why the play was executed so well. Paul’s pick, as well as Papi’s inability to fight through it since he wasn’t in good position to move.

Plus, LOOK AT THAT HUGE CHUNK OF SPACE INSIDE. Excellent execution, well-designed play. Take a bow, Coach Bo Perasol.

People are going to rile up on Camacho for jumping, but take these into consideration.

It was a gamble to jump. It’s also important to understand WHY he was jumping. He wasn’t jumping to defend the shot. He leapt forward to possibly steal the ball, which was perfectly reasonable thing to do. Look at how far that pass is. As it was, passes like that in the clutch are risky. The bare minimum in clutch situations is to at the very least, get the ball inbounded so you have a chance at making a play. UP took that risk, Camacho recognized it, played the percentages, took a leap of faith. Just didn’t pay off, as he mistimed the leap. On that note..

This was a GORGEOUS pass by Juan. Not only did the ball get to Bright’s hands, but it nestled in there PERFECTLY. It made perfect sense to have your best passer inbound the ball, and it showed here. By the time Bright got the ball, all he had to do was go up, and put the ball in the hoop to grab the lead.

Take a damn bow, UP. This was BEAUTIFUL.

OTHER KEY NOTES

  • It’s easy to rile up on Papi for his error on this play, but at the same time, you have to understand he was tired. He carried Adamson over the course of the game, so him going on his heels is a perfectly understandable thing for him to do. It just sucks for the Soaring Falcons he had to make the error at such an inopportune time.
  • We have to give credit to Paul Desiderio for making the sacrifice of having to set the pick for Bright’s shining moment. For a guy accustomed to taking the last shot, he deserves praise for sticking to the team’s plan, setting that pick PERFECTLY for their MVP. That’s leadership.
  • This was such a fun game, and it was only fitting it ended with such a well run play. We’ll see you on Wednesday, hopefully for another nailbiter. This was A LOT of fun. College basketball at its very best.