View from the Enemy: NU Bulldogs
Two teams with two different outcomes in their last battle meet to share the same goal – to outclass each other. UST Growling Tigers’ winning streak will be endangered as they face the revengeful powerhouse NU Bulldogs. Records show that UST owned NU’s number as they were able to beat the Bulldogs thrice last season to eventually face the defending Champion, Ateneo.
It is expected that NU Bulldogs will be extra driven to win this battle as Ray-Ray Parks and his troops are dying to finally end their winning drought against the team who eliminated them in the semifinals last year. Not to mention, NU is coming off a heartbreaking loss against UE. They will surely push themselves to win this game and try not to have back-to-back losses this season. There’s just so much baggage for the NU Bulldogs for this match, it could make or break them. It is now up to the UST Tigers on how they are going to take advantage of this situation and rise up this challenge.
Keys to the Game
Extinguish NU’s (S)Parks
With the presence of Kevin Ferrer, UST seems to have a formula in limiting NU’s main gunner, Parks. If Ferrer continues to successfully disrupt the reigning MVP’s game, the Tigers’ mastery over the Bulldogs will prevail. Cliché as it may sound, but Parks is the heart and soul of NU Bulldogs. Once you stop him, the chances of beating the Bulldogs balloon up. As recently seen in NU’s loss against UE, Parks struggled with only 11 points in 37 minutes of play, a far cry from his MVP numbers last year of 21.4 points in 33.7 minutes.
Force and Convert turnovers
If there is one thing that UST is good at, that’s forcing their opponents to commit an average of 23 TOs. Two weeks into Season 76, UST leads in this category. Unfortunately, even though their opponents are committing a lot of errors they cannot take advantage of this. The table below shows that Tigers rank second to the last in generating points out of an opponent’s TO. This is unacceptable, knowing that they were able to get a lot of possessions from their opponent’s TO.
In the early goings of this season, NU is averaging 20.5 turnovers, while UST is only averaging 17.5. That is plus three possessions for UST, if they can convert these turnovers to points they already have at least a six point advantage over NU and this could spell the win for UST, knowing that UST’s last two games were decided by a mere five points.
Crash the Boards
UST has been outrebounded in their previous outings. They allowed their counterpart to grab a total of 52 boards per game while they only get an average of 41.5 rebounds. With the double-double performances by Emmanuel Mbe, averaging 16 pts and 13 rebs in two games. The Tigers, especially Kareem Abdul and Paulo Pe, must double their efforts in protecting the rim.
Another thrilling match in the making. This will surely go down the wire, with Teng and Parks exchanging clutch baskets. TOs and rebounds will come into play, judging from the previous performances of each team, NU has the advantage. Unless UST finds a way to capitalize on TOs and protect the boards Bulldogs will come out as winners. As good as the Tigers are doing right now, having two winning streak, Bulldogs’ willingness to revenge their season ending lost last year might just overpower the result of this game. NU Bulldogs will finally have their revenge against UST Growling Tigers.