Three days after being stung by the UST Growling Tigers, the UP Fighting Maroons faces another challenge — a more daunting one this time as they square up against the current top team in the league, the FEU Tamaraws.

FEU grabbed the solo spot at the summit of the team standings after carving a victory over erstwhile co-leaders La Salle Green Archers. Mike Tolomia steered the Tamaraws to the top as he exploded in the second half, scoring 19 of his team-high 22 points in that juncture.

In their first round encounter, UP delivered the goods early on and kept at bay for the first two quarters. However due to coach Rey Madrid’s head-scratching player selections (he started the untested rookie point guard Jarrell Lim in the second half, remember?) and FEU’s blistering second half display, the Fighting Maroons suffered a 71-85 setback.

Keys to the Game


UP and FEU are the two worst rebounders of their own misses this season, sporting offensive rebounding rates of 25.8% and 29.6% respectively. However, they are miles apart in picking up the defensive boards. FEU clobbers 71% of their opponents’ misses this season, which is second best in the league, next to NU. On the other hand, UP has a league-worst 59.3% defensive rebounding rate. For UP to stand a chance of stealing this one, they should come up with better efforts in rebounding the misses on both ends of the court.


Mac Belo (Czeasar Dancel, NPPA Images)


When Mac Belo entered as a substitute in their first round match, the complexion of the game totally changed and favored FEU instantly. Attest to that is his whopping net efficiency of +34.5 points per 100 possessions in just a shade above 21 minutes of playing time. Add to that, he put up his best rebounding performance of the season (with a Mammie-esque rebounding splits of 25/21/23). Having said that, Belo should be the number one defensive priority for UP, and Tolomia is 1A. The question now is which among the Fighting Maroons will have the unenviable task of guarding this very skilled and polished forward? While he did struggle a bit against La Salle in their last outing, I don’t see him performing any poorer than that against UP’s defense (or the lack of).


When Mikee Reyes is good, he is extremely good and beneficial to UP’s cause. But when he plays bad, he becomes somewhat detrimental to the team. That’s how significant Mikee is to the team  Given his struggles in the last two games where he had a dismal true shooting percentage of 40% while using an enormous 38.9% of UP’s possessions, maybe coach Madrid should utilize him less this time and give the talented but not-that-wild point guards like Henry Asilum and Diego Dario more minutes to man the point.


It seems a victory is nowhere in sight for UP in this game. FEU, having a legitimate MVP contender playing as a sixth man, could be too much for the Fighting Maroons. Add to that, Tolomia is another complex puzzle for UP to solve. I would not be surprised should the story of  this game would be similar to that of their first round match.

Featured image courtesy of Voltaire Domingo,NPPA IMAGES/ Yahoo PH Sports