What do you get when you pit the league’s best defensive team against the league’s worst offensive team?
Yes, the nightmare of round one is behind them, but hopefully they won’t relive it. The Falcons have gathered some semblance of a head of steam of sorts since that first round debacle. Hopefully it’ll be enough to at least not make a fool of themselves. The Falcons still haven’t found an offensive system to score on consistently so expect points, field goals and balls in baskets to come few and far in between.
Keys to the Game
HIT THE THREE
In their first round encounter, the Falcons were hounded from everywhere. They only scored 25 points on nine field goals. One major contributing factor to being hounded is their reluctance to shoot the three ball. The Falcons are at the bottom three in attempted long range shots and at the bottom in their percentages. Opening up the lane and loosening up the defense will come from a willingness to attempt three pointers and hopefully make them.
The Falcons can rely on newfound shooter Francis Donahue to be their floor spreader as so far he has been reliable with his long jumpers hitting 40% of them. He has also hit 50% of his three-pointers albeit only on four attempts, but it means they can take some of the load off Jansen Rios, Don Trollano and Ryan Monteclaro to hit it from beyond the arc.
Other players need to step up their range as well. NU sports one of the stingiest post defenses with Alfred Aroga patrolling the paint averaging two rejections a game. To get him out, players like Ivan Villanueva will need to start becoming a threat from beyond the arc, forcing the big rejecting machine to step out of the paint.
GET TO THE LINE
Field goals won’t come easy this game, so the Falcons will need to generate some points from the line. The Falcons average only 19 trips to the line, mostly because of their tendency to settle for jump shots. Heads down, shoulders in and start attacking the basket, that’s how they’ll go beyond their average. One trade-off for being overaggressive on defense is the tendency to foul, the Falcons must exploit this and turn it against the Bulldogs. When the Bulldogs realize they’re in foul trouble and sending the Falcons to the line too much, they’ll start backing off and field goal opportunities will come up more.
PREVENT SECOND CHANCES
The Bulldogs aren’t a top offensive team themselves. They have an average field goal percentage but make up for it by second chances. Behind La Salle and Ateneo, NU averages 8.4 second chance points against only 6.1 for the Falcons. The Falcons obviously lack the height to challenge NU’s bigs, but their sheer tenacity can track down the defensive board, just like how Rios, being a guard/forward manages to get double-digit rebounds in most of the games.
Lessening NU’s easy looks at the basket and lessening their offensive rebounds means a better chance at keeping the score low. Yes, both teams score low, but NU isn’t the one with a scoring problem, Adamson is.
It will be another runaway game for NU. The Falcons will unlikely put up much of a fight against a solid defense like NU’s but hopefully they won’t repeat their 25-point output in the first round.
Featured image courtesy of Mark Cristino, Pinoy Exchange