I’m looking to the sky to save me

Looking for a sign of life

Looking for something to helpme burn out bright

I’m looking for a complication

Looking cause I’m tired of trying

Make my way back home

When I learn to fly

– Learn to Fly, Foo Fighters

It’s like a breath of fresh air, like someone finally let the air back in the room, like a thorn was pulled out from my feet.

Ateneo finally won it’s first game. Sure, we’re still 1-3, tied with the UE Red Warriors for the fourth worst record in the league at 1-3. But for someone who’s followed the team since 2004 (when I decided that I wanted to study in Ateneo) and through most of Ateneo’s glory years (winning a whopping 100 out of a total 124 games or losing around three games each season, not counting the playoffs), this three game losing streak was something new. I’m not as spoiled as the Ateneans/Ateneo fans who started following the team back in Season 71 (the first of our five championships), since I did experience four years of heart break – from watching LA Tenorio single handedly carrying the team, to watching Jervy Cruz  and Dylan Ababou take the championship, to watching La Salle win against Ateneo multiple times (none more heartbreaking than the Final Four I watched live back in Season 70).

But still, it was a different feeling. This win is a panacea – one that stopped the bleeding. After two disappointing losses to the FEU Tamaraws and the De La Salle Green Archers – the former going to overtime and the latter leading by double digit at half time. It seemed like this game was yet again setting up to be a disappointment with Ateneo again leading at the half. I was shaking, nervously praying that Ateneo can at least break even in the 3rd half.

Lo and behold, instead of giving the lead up, we actually built a lead in the third quarter – a lead which the Bald Eagles never relinquished.

Graphs, Tables, Numbers and Keys to the Game, up next.

Four Factors

Team Pace Rating eFG TOV% ORB% FTR
ADMU 76.4 93.0 48.4% 21.0% 35.3% 19.7%
ADU 76.4 77.3 35.7% 15.0% 28.8% 12.9%

Game Flow

OH what a beautiful sight!

Individual Offensive Rating


So many contributions across the board

Reviewing the Keys to the Game

Rebounds, Rebounds, Rebounds

I’ve said before that Adamson isn’t as physical as the two teams that we played before them (NU and La Salle). Brondial is not a physical rebounder, he’s more of the cerebral type – reading where the ball goes after a shot, positioning himself well, anchoring himself to a spot and boxing out. Ateneo can handle those kinds of rebounders – big reason why Brondial was limited to a rebounding split of 5/15/9 (way below his average of 10/18/14).

However, Sewa – a big, physical and strong rebounder – did have his way against us, rebounding 20% of all available offensive, defensive and total rebounds (that’s a scary number). Thankfully, Sewa had a hard time converting those rebounds into points. That’s not a win but a result that led to a win. Overall, Ateneo held a really strong, positional rebounding team into a subpar time on the boards. Big reasons are Buenafe’s continued excellence on the glass (10.7/21/16.9 split) and a somehow diminutive Tiongson rebounding like a big man (rebounding splits of 9.4/18.5/14.9) – who saw that one coming?

I’d consider this a “win” only because I don’t think Tiongson and Erram (who also had an average day in the rebounding department) can sustain this type of rebounding. Buenafe is a different case. A different role, one that sees him closer and closer to the basket in more offensive and defensive possessions, has allowed him to use his girth as a weapon to become an effective rebounder. I’m getting more and more optimistic that Buenafe can sustain some of this production. That will mean good things in the future.

Turnover Party

Ateneo was clearly trying to force turnovers with their patented “triangle” press. This was more evident when you watched the game up close — Juami was actually inviting the ball handler to go to the baseline (to use it, along with the halfcourt line as leverage points). But Adamson read this action beautifully, with the Adamson ballhandler passing right before the trap to kick it out to the open man (the man left behind by the second trapper). Adamson used this to their advantage as Jericho Cruz was able to attack off the bounce in these transition moments. Von and Newsome were a big blame for this as the trap came way to late, resulting into a couple of easy baskets, mismatches on rotations (that thankfully, Adamson didn’t take full advantage) and fouls due to out-of-position players.

A big, fat “X” mark on this one. For what it’s worth, Adamson only turned the ball over on 15% of their possessions. Meanwhile, Ateneo showed Adamson how to create a turnover party as Ateneo players, particularly Newsome, dribbled into traffic with a loose dribble far too many times. That’s how you create a turnover parteh!

Expectation = Disappointment 

I’ll explain more in the game notes but this is a big check for me.

Third Quarter slumps are a no-no

WE WON A THIRD QUARTER! For a fan base that was accustomed to those Norman Black runs in the third quarter, these past three third quarters have not been a sight to see. Ateneo outscored Adamson by 6 points in the third quarter. SIX. #Celebration

Game Notes and Other Observations

1. As I said, the need for Ateneo players to be ready for the prospect of Kiefer not playing was imperative. And it showed – Ateneo was running those sets well (the ones I’ve talked about a lot over the past three post game articles). They were running and cutting with conviction and purpose. They bumped shoulders with their screeners, screeners stood tall and strong, cuts were committed instead of hesitating (which lead to a lot of turnovers before), passes were crisp and with direction (I mean, most of them). It wasn’t a perfect game, by any means, but compared to the train wreck that the past three games have been (in terms of points per possession), this was good.

2. As I continue talking about the sets, Ateneo keeps on adding more and more elements. Remember that Hawk set that looked like this:

Ateneo Hawk set down screen (Photo Credit: UAAP Sports TV)

Ateneo Hawk set down screen (Photo Credit: UAAP Sports TV)

At this point, you expect the guy from the corner (in this case, Nico Elorde) to come of the staggered screens set by Juami (first screener) and Buenafe (second screener), right? That’s what Adamson was thinking as well (as you can see from how Juami’s defender overplays him).

Instead, Juami goes baseline and gets a down screen from Golla (behind Sewa in the image). This action completely takes Julkipli (Juami’s defender) and Sewa off guard, freeing up Golla (after he cuts post screening action). Thankfully, Golla makes the easy layup. Here’s the action in realtime:

That was on Ateneo’s very first possession. Here are a couple more Hawk set wrinkles that the coaching staff added.


2. Buenafe’s post game continues to evolve. At first he was too sudden with his movements and becoming predictable in the process. Slowly, he’s learning how to read and react. He was playing it the way Jason Kidd did almost a decade ago – just continuously dribbling and dribbling closer and closer to the basket until an opening presents itself – a Von Pessumal three pointer, a Poy Erram jump shot, a jumper and multiple other plays where Ateneo players were able to penetrate the defense off the attention that Buenafe was attracting. Nine assists for Buenafe, most of them coming either from postups (when being defended by a smaller player) or off-the-dribble at the top of the key (when defended by slower players). The coaching staff used Buenafe the way he is supposed to be used and Buenafe took full advantage of the trust the coaching staff gave him. I swear, Buenafe could have had 12+ assists had some of the shots he passed to went in. A great game from Buenafe despite a true shooting percentage of just 42.6%. I’ve come to expect him to have a “bad to decent” game, scoring wise. But his size coupled with his passing ability is unique. Today, it was on full display.

3. NBA comparison time: The commenter was right in saying that Juami Tiongson is like Mario Chalmers – a player who operates better off-the-ball or off-the-catch instead of in isolation. Who’s LeBron? That’s easy – Ryan Buenafe (although not as cerebral, as good of a jump shooter, post player, bla bla bla  as LeBron.#Clearly). Newsome (and probably Kiefer) will operate in almost the same capacity as Wade – working in different sets: on the ball, off it, cutting, posting up, ball screens or isolation. Not to say that Buenafe is the top dog (I still think that by the second round, Kiefer will take the reins from Buenafe) but he’s clearly Ateneo’s post priority. And for good measure – he’s too strong for so called “small forwards” and too shifty for so called “power forwards”. Erram can operate in the same way as Bosh does – spacing the floor with midrange jumpers and good rolls while being a long and quick defender that can suffocate perimeter players and occupy copious amount of space in seconds. That’s IF he’s healthy.

4. Continuing the NBA comparison, Cabrera reminds me a LOT of JR Smith: the shot selection and the swag. Cabrera shot almost all kinds of threes today: spot up, moving right, moving left, moving away from a screen, moving into the screen, off balance, with one foot – you name it. I think if he could, he would have probably shot that three ball blind folded. Oh and the swagger as well – what’s with the kagat labi effect when his face goes on the big board? HAHAHA Girls (and some guys) were screaming whenever his face lit up the board. The heart wants want the heart wants, I guess.

5. Defensively, Newsome did a great job on the Adamson Star (Jericho Cruz) – keeping him at arms length and forcing him into a lot of jumpers. [ ]ericho Cruz did make 3 out of 11 three point attempts (and maybe one or two midrange jumpers) but most of them were either contested or under duress. All of that I’m fine with (despite obviously the 11 three point attempts).

6. I have to comment this: I’m suddenly a fan of Inigo. Wala lang.

7. Stating the obvious: Juami and Erram had big games. Buenafe had a near trip dub. Nothing you haven’t read before.

8. Weird seeing some of the Blue Eagles bald. Ryan Buenafe looked slimmer (probably because his round head took attention away from his round body), Ravena looked smaller and non-commercial like, Elorde looked five years younger, Juami looked like a son of a gangster and Golla looked like one of those Crispy Creme donuts – the ones with two circles, one big and one small and then sprinkled with white powder. Newsome and Erram are probably having a good laugh about all this Bald Eagle shenanigan.


Nuff said.

10. Kiefer looked scared out there. His rhythm was out and his dribbling was loose. That’s fine. The good news? The limp is gone and … he’s back. *evil laugh*

11. We have one win! BONFIRE NA! 

Next game will be against our friendly neighbor in the standings, the UE Red Warriors (who also stand at 1-3). The good news? UE is among the easiest teams to defend (currently worst offense in the league, scoring 82.4 points per 100-possession). The bad news? CHARLES “INSTANT” MAMMIE IS BACK. Will have a full analysis in my pre-game.

What about you, what were your thoughts on the game?

Disclaimer: All videos and screen captures are courtesy of ABS-CBN Sports/UAAP