WHEW. What a relief, right? Ateneo needed this win and it seemed liked they understood the importance of getting this win (both from a momentum perspective and from a confidence-boosting perspective). They stormed out to an early lead (look at the game flow below) and never relented the lead. There was a mini-scare towards the end of the fourth quarter (fueled by missed free throws, defensive lapses that UST wisely capitalized and just jitters) but all in all, this was a game that Ateneo definitely needed.
Graphs, Tables, Numbers
Individual Offensive Rating
Keys to the Game
UST had nine steals. In fact, Ateneo only had one turnover that was not a steal. A terribly bad number. In fact, UST got on their mini-run particularly because Ateneo couldn’t hit free throws and UST kept on getting steals that led to easy opportunities. Fortunately, Ateneo did a good job of running their offense and taking care of the ball, outside those steals, turning the ball over on just 11.8 percent of their possessions. Those pesky long armed UST players!!
More Erram/Tolentino, Less Golla
If we’re merely talking about minutes, Erram and Tolentino combined to play 25 minutes while Golla played 25 minutes on his own. But I actually thought Golla played well couple that with Erram and Tolentino playing to their usual aggressive selves (Erram had three blocks and a couple of shots changed, Tolentino with his usual brand of aggressive trapping and swift recovery) and I’m going to put a big check on this one.
Never Fear, Kiefer is here
According to his press con, Kiefer’s health is right around 70 percent. That probably explains why most of his shots were flat and why he’s alternating good performances and bad performances (hard to get a good rhythm when you don’t know how your body will react). It didn’t help that UST kept throwing different defenders at him, alternating between Kevin Ferrer and Daquioag. He did rebound well and he defended well (missing a couple of rotations but overall, good) but his dribbling is still not there and his explosive first step and lift off is still missing. Hopefully, the two week break helps him.
Game Notes and Other Observations
1. I think I’ve done enough analysis on Coach Bo’s offense (just read my previous post game thoughts). The gist of it is that they have tons of off-ball movement and misdirection that uses Juami/Von’s shooting, Golla/Tolentino’s big body, Newsome’s awesome-ness and Ryan/Kiefer’s multi-dimensionality as weapons. They employ back screens to set up high post up opportunities while a flare screen that happens on the opposite side. They use cross screens to open the low post while a second screen happens on the strong side (either a cut to the basket or a flare). Rarely do the boys in blue use simple side pick-and-roll actions and instead, Coach Bo has installed a system that is both complex and simple (if that is possible).
2. Moving on to more pressing game notes, it was pretty clear what UST’s game plan would be: they’ll attack the post. Karim Abdul was attacking the post in a variety of ways (some of which were to the detriment of UST’s offense, actually). He moved away from what he did well (facing up and then attacking from there) in favor of something else (backing down). He looked uncomfortable backing down and that threw the entire UST offensive attack out of sync.
3. They did however have success with Mariano – who scorched Buenafe in the high post on multiple occasions. Mariano scored 16 points (on 9 shots and 6 free throws) most of them from the high post, where he used his foot work and angles. I think I remember Awesome Newsome being put on Mariano at some point.
4. They also had mixed results attacking Kiefer in the post via Ferrer – who’s a good 3~4 inches taller than Kief. Ferrer doesn’t really have advanced moves down there (unlike Mariano). To be honest, Ferrer works best working off-the-ball instead of on it – he understands space and intelligently makes cuts where there’s a vacuum.
5. One thing that I’m very, very happy about – because he was forced into a role, Juami is slowly expanding his game. Before, he had a hard time operating in the half court as an on-ball creator – most of his good shots came off screens or on spot ups. Despite his awesome passing skills in transition, he struggled a lot with passing the ball. This is especially true in ball screens last year – where he would often find his passes either miss the mark, fumbled or completely stolen. This year, he’s learning how to “drag” the screen and being more patient with his pass/drive selection. The results? Juami has blossomed as one of Ateneo’s best (and frankly, underrated) players in the UAAP this season. He currently sports the 16th best PER and the 7th highest offensive rating among players I’d consider as “scorers” (played at least 4 games, played at least 20 minutes and used at least 20 percent of his team’s possessions while he was on the court). I told you that the adversity at the start of the season would yield some seriously yummy fruits when Kiefer comes back. Juami exemplifies that fruit.
6. On the other side, Daquioag himself is coming along nicely. I think he’s more of scorer than a facilitator (despite his 25.3 percent assist rate). All of the concerns about Fortuna leaving should mainly be focused on “leadership” in the sense that who’s going to direct traffic. But in terms of raw production, Daquioag is more than enough to fill in the void left by their former numero uno.
7. Last note on point guards, Nico Elorde is really struggling when blitzed on the pick-and-roll. He’s short that it’s harder to get a clean pass from those traps and he looks like he’s panicking and seems unsure on what he needs to do. At one point, he was trapped all the way to the sideline where he was forced to pass the ball to an opponent (in order to push it out of bounds). He needs to improve on this if he wants to make an impact.
8. So few postups from Kiefer (I think I only counted two) because Kiefer was being guarded by an equally strong and incredibly long Kevin Ferrer for most of the game. The few postups that I remember were when Daquioag was guarding him.
9. The late game run by UST was fueled – as I said – by the free throw shooting woes and by the careless turnovers. Those can be easily remedied. So I advise you to not panic and say “OMG, Ateneo seems to have a hard time closing games!” Let’s wait until Kiefer gets healthy for us to pass judgement on this team. Yes, they did have a hard time closing games before Kiefer was playing. That much is true. But whether this team with Kiefer struggles to close games again (even with him) will be dependent on his health. Let’s wait for the second round.
That’s all I got to say. No videos and screen caps because:
a. tons of stuff to do
b. the internet at home won’t cooperate
But don’t worry, I’ll hope to have a few featured articles on some of our boys over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.