View from the Enemy: FEU Tamaraws
Offense versus Defense, this will be the theme of the matchup between the FEU Tamaraws and the UST Growling Tigers as they clash head-to-head in the first round outing in Season 76. After three weeks of play, the Tamaraws lead the league in point production averaging 81.8 points making them the best offensive team as of the moment. On the other hand, the Tigers have been responding to the challenge of their fiery coach of being a defensive oriented team, as they tied with NU in topping the chart of teams with the least allowed points.
The primary reason for FEU’s superb showing in the offensive end is attributed to their high effective Field Goal (eFG) shooting, as they top the league with 46.1%. On the other side, UST’s defensive prowess is fueled by their trapping defense that forces a high TOV% for their opponent, making them the best team in forcing turnovers.
They say “Offense wins games, defense wins championships”. That seems to favor UST, right? But, with the Tigers being shorthanded missing their main gunner Jeric Teng and Kevin Ferrer having a fractured cheekbone (he will still play but he will be wearing a protective mask), will they have enough fire power to match Tamaraws’ scoring production?
Keys to the Game
Own the Post
No one from FEU can guard and stop Kareem Abdul from owning the post. Coming from a career high production output, 24 pts and 11 rebs, Abdul’s confidence is undeniable by now. With his heft and post moves, he probably knows that he has a clear advantage over Anthony Hargrove and/or Christian Sentcheu.
The Tigers seems to know how to adjust their shot selection depending on who they are up against. Just like UST’s previous game against UE with the absence of Charles Mammie, Pido Jarencio explicitly advised his troops to pound on UE’s interior weakness. UST gladly attacked the rim resulting to an almost 60% of their shots being at the rim wherein they converted 50% of their attempts. The Tigers’ percentage of shots at the rim against UE is relatively high compared to what they had with the teams with a respectable inside presence (Mbe of NU, Sewa of AdU, and Van Opstal of DLSU). With the lack of a dominant big man in FEU’s roster, expect the Tigers to attack the rim at least 50% of the time.
Take Care of the Charities
The big men of FEU have been prone to foul trouble. The Tamaraws are actually giving up the most number of fouls per game. This will surely be to the advantage of the Tigers as they have been tallying the best free throw rating (FTR) in the league at 32.9%, sinking in and attempting the most number of FTs by far.
Pressure the Ball Handler
The Tamaraws are the best in having the least number of turnovers (TO) per outing but the Tigers are the best in forcing their opponents to commit turnovers, plus they lead in steals per game. The Tigers ability to press the backcourt will be vital in disrupting the offense of the Tamaraws. Even if UST won’t be able to steal the ball, just pestering the backcourt of FEU and forcing them to have a hard time orchestrating their offense will be a big factor for UST.
Whoever imposes their proficiency in controlling the ball, be it taking care of it or forcing their counterpart to lose it will have an edge in this game.
This will surely go down the wire and will be decided on the last three possessions. With the depleted line up of UST and the blazing start of FEU, time and time again Tigers play the role of the underdogs. Albeit underdogs and shorthanded, stats show that the Tigers have the unique tool set to score a win over the undefeated FEU Tamaraws. I’m positive that with Abdul’s inside presence and UST’s trapping defense, the fourth W will be secured by the Tigers.