Despite the ramifications of this game in the grand scheme of things in Season 78 is little to none, expect the UP Fighting Maroons and UE Red Warriors to slug it all out as both teams want to end their respective campaigns on a positive note.
Both teams won’t be making it to the Final Four festivities. However, one can argue that the Fighting Maroons and the Red Warriors have somewhat exceeded the expectations of many. UE, despite the players’ exodus that took place in the offseason, managed to put up four wins this season. On the other hand, the perennial cellar dweller UP has already equaled their most number of wins since 2007, which is like an eternity ago.
In their first round matchup which was the opening act of Season 78, the Fighting Maroons managed to hold on for the victory despite a late UE surge to kick off their campaign. One particular guy UP had to thank for that win was Gelo “Jamal Crawford” Vito who knocked down all his three kissed-by-the-angels-in-the-sky triples during the final stretch when UE mounted one big comeback. Sadly, Vito has not been a reliable option for the Fighting Maroons since that tremendous outpour. He has taken eleven triples, making only three in eleven games after that performance. His playing time has taken a hit (and he even incurred a DNP-CD) with the stellar play of the newcomers.
One of Gelo Vito’s triples in the first encounter of UP and UE this season which brought the coliseum down. Video credit: Gnoe Gargallo, YouTube
As always, battling UE means being engaged to a frenetic pace of a game and encountering a barrage of fullcourt traps. The Red Warriors always seem to find their way to gravitate their games towards fast-paced action as they are currently sporting a league-high pace of 87.7 possessions per game, the highest mark by a team since Season 74. Meanwhile, their fullcourt pressure have also stymied the offense of their opponents. UE currently forces their opponents to an extremely high turnover rate of 26.2%. (In case you’re wondering, UP are distant second with 20.6%.) As seen on their first round encounter, the Fighting Maroons had difficulty in setting up their offense when the Red Warriors finally unleashed the suffocating Pumaren-style fullcourt press.
Despite UE’s lack of size and heft with the departures of Charles Mammie and Moustapha Arafat, they managed to get a fair share of boards this season. They are currently averaging an ORB% of 35.2%, a shade above the league average of 33.5%. The battle of the boards must be one thing that the Fighting Maroons should put a ton of effort on as they got clearly whacked by UE (UP registered rebounding splits of 24/64/47 in the first outing )despite having the size advantage.
The battle of potent scorers from the two sides will be one of the plots worth watching in this match. Once again, Paul Desiderio will be the main man for the Fighting Maroons. He may not be that efficient as his 37.7% true shooting suggests but once he imposes his will on offense and takes over, UE must be wary. On the other hand, Edison Batiller has been putting up incredible numbers in his maiden season in UAAP (18.9 PER, +3.5 net rating, and 21.9 AST%). The Red Warriors will be needing every ounce of his contribution in this game, as it has been the case throughout this season.
|TV: LIVE ON ABS-CBN SPORTS AND ACTION|
|TIME: 2:00 PM|
|VENUE: SMART-ARANETA COLISEUM|