NU Bulldogs def. UST Growling Tigers 75-70
Dave (19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) and Shaun (10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals) Ildefonso, NU
The Demolition Brothers had a fine debut as they led this season’s hosts to their first win. Dave started out a little jittery missing his first four shots before finally settling down to score 10 points in the second quarter. He also helped NU to finally pull away in the fourth with seven points. He showed a little bit of everything, highlighted by a strong drive against Steve Akomo and a strong post move reminiscent of his father Danny I. Dave’s older brother wouldn’t be outdone as all 10 of his points came in the third quarter when the Bulldogs went on a tear and built their biggest lead. Fears about his transition into the seniors’ division as an undersized power forward can be lessened a bit. He’s not as flashy but his simple game based on strength, athleticism and positioning was effective.
Issa Gaye, NU (6 points, 3 rebounds, 8 blocks)
It may not show on the boxscore but Gaye was just a monster as he was almost everywhere on the court. His energy was amazing especially on defense as he blocked or bothered almost every shot the Growling Tigers threw up. He may just end up being NU’s most important player with how much he can affect the game with his presence alone. His eight blocks were the most by any player since Alfred Aroga. Remember that guy? It remains to be seen if Gaye can follow in his footsteps and lead the Bulldogs to playoff contention.
CJ Cansino, UST (20 points, 10 rebounds)
Cansino was the other super rookie who made a distinct impression in his debut. He certainly lived up to the preseason hype with some strong drives, the ability to get to the line (8 attempts) and even a four-point play sprinkled in. He didn’t look like a rookie at all with how he almost led his team to a comeback victory (10 points in the final period).
- Based on the preferred style of play of both coaches, it’s a bit of a surprise that it was a relatively slow-paced game (79.98 Pace; for comparison’s sake, NU and UST were at 84.6 and 86.4 respectively last season). It certainly didn’t feel that way as teams kept exchanging runs and the momentum kept swinging left and right. But a reason for this was the limited traps both coaches used over the course of the game. The way both teams played was methodical and patient, a fresh sight.
- UST was limited to just a 28.89 percent shooting clip but they more than made up for it with 29 big offensive rebounds. The effort of the Growling Tigers nearly resulted to a come-from-behind victory for them, while it creates some cause for concern for the big Bulldogs.
- It was an interesting second half for the Growling Tigers as they were held to just nine points in the third before suddenly exploding for 33 in the final period. Cansino, Renzo Subido, and Steve Akomo registered 31 of those points and almost steered them to that victory.
- I mentioned earlier that Gaye may be NU’s most important player and it showed as the momentum would shift to the other side almost every time he sat on the bench. NU’s bigs will have to replicate not only his rebounding but also his activity and energy in the paint. Matt Aquino and Troy Rike acquitted themselves well but the difference when they sub in for Gaye was very noticeable. Pacing their monstrous Senegalese pivot will be an important aspect this season.
- NU also had issues with their point guard play. Enzo Joson and Rev Diputado are fine players but they just couldn’t get into a rhythm during the 1st quarter when they shared quarterbacking duties. It wasn’t until Dave Ildefonso started to initiate the offense did they have a bit more flow. It’s something to think about for Coach Jamike Jarin. Their best bet may be to have Dave handle the ball a bit more, especially when you consider that’s how he got his own scoring going.
- As for UST, the biggest area of concern should be shot distribution. Renzo Subido and Marvin Lee combined to hit just EIGHT out of their FORTY-THREE attempts. Think about that for a minute. Then think about how Cansino and Steve Akomo combined for 10/25 FGs. Let that sink in. Coach Aldin Ayo may have to reconsider giving his two guards that much of a green light to jack up shots especially when they actually found more success running people off screens Golden State-style. Lee, in particular, looked good the few times he did just that instead of handling the ball and going up for threes every time. It’s going be a painful process for these guys but there were definitely flashes of brilliance there.
- All in all, both teams looked exactly like squads still figuring out how to best handle a lot of new parts. Both have super rookies, both have really good head coaches with proven systems and both have a bright future ahead. We had a fun Dave vs. Cansino duel in the second and fourth quarters and we hope to see more of that in the future. Maybe even in the Final Four.