We all miss basketball.  To cope with not having any real games played or not being able to play the game ourselves, many of us have turned to fantasy bookings, matchups and situational speculation. In this climate of social distancing and isolation the HumbleBola team brings to you, a fantasy matchup tournament of the best UAAP players of Season 82. One-on-one, no teammates, no screens, no cuts, no curls, just two amazing athletes, a ball, a net and 21 points.  

We take the 16 athletes who in Season 82, showed us that they have what it takes to break opponents down one-on-one. Who would reign supreme in this hypothetical King of the Hill tournament?  

Some ground rules before we get started: 

  1. We separated the bracket to four regions. They are according to what the HumbleBola team determined as the Top Four players of the UAAP this past season: The Ravena Region, the Chabi Yo Region, the Kouame Region, and the Paras Region. The respective players were also determined as the top speeds of their respective groups. 
  2.  The players for each region were determined by position. The Ravena Region consisted mostly of guards. The Chabi Yo Region were filled with forwards. The Kouame Region was the group for big men. Finally, the Paras Region was for wings. 
  3. What was considered in choosing each player: individual excellence, team success, and statistics.  
  4. Rules of each game are simple: Race to 21, 1s and 2s, loser’s ball, do or die. Why 21 and not 11? We wanted to make it as Filipino as possible. Bente-uno is peak Philippine Basketball. 

Time to start the fun! 

Elite Eight: Ravena Region 

By Kyle Reiner Pineda 

#1 Thirdy Ravena vs #3 Juan Gomez De Liano 

Familiar foes meet again. A UAAP Season 81 Finals rematch. Both having Katipunan roots. 

These two have been the poster boys for UAAP Men’s Basketball in recent years. Both have their respective international experiences with polarizing playing styles. The future Gilas teammates will have their hands full in this matchup. I would personally pay to watch this 1v1 in real life and catch this on tape. 

Thirdy would have a slight height advantage to Juan’s 6’1” versus his 6’3”, and adds to it with his #GAINZ. The Blue Eagle would have a more polished skillset being tested on a colleague and international level though he would have to rely a lot on his championship mettle against a familiar opponent. The three-time Finals MVP has a reliable jumper working for him as well as the capability to lock anyone down at any given moment. 

The offensive explosiveness of Juan GDL, on the other hand, is no joke. He can pull up from the logo and finish around the basket especially without the UAAP trees here. The Mythical Five pick will have to dig deep into his offensive bag to utilize his shiftiness and agility with the ball. He may be small but Juan’s defense could be enough to let his offense takeover in the crunch moments.   

Result: This is a neck-and-neck battle. The two experienced guards would go at each other until crunch time where championship experience takes over. Thirdy is just too strong for GDL to handle and the Eagle’s experience with LJay Gonzales keeps the Diliman guard in check.  

Final: Thirdy Ravena def Juan Gomez De Liano 21-19 

Elite Eight: Chabi Yo Region 

By Colin Salao 

#1 Soulemane Chabi Yo vs #2 Jamie Malonzo 

Think of all the great traits about yourself; all the possible things that could separate you from the rest of the pack which you believe made your significant other fall for you. Maybe you’re smart? Or funny? Or talented. 

Well, Jamie Malonzo is you, and Soulemane Chabi Yo is the person your significant other told you not to worry about. 

Malonzo’s biggest advantage in a one-on-one tournament is his elite athleticism. Against a player like Will Navarro in the Sweet 16, Malonzo would be able to use his first step, length and quickness to win. However, against a 6’5” long-armed mammoth in Soulemane Chabi Yo, all Malonzo’s best attributes would be trumped by Chabi Yo’s strengths. 

Chabi Yo would suffocate Malonzo, and he’d keep the uber-athletic wing from getting to the rim with his length and lateral quickness. Offensively, Malonzo is just too thin and small to keep Chabi Yo away from the basket. I can just picture Chabi Yo backing down Malonzo from 20-feet all the way to the rim. And when Malonzo thinks he can use his quickness defensively, the UAAP Season 82 MVP would use his own equal-if-not-greater quickness to spin to the basket. 

Sorry, Jamie Malonzo. For all the things you may be great at, Soulemane Chabi Yo is your trump card. 

Final: Soulemane Chabi Yo def Jamie Malonzo 21 – 14 

Elite Eight: Kouame Region 

 By Vinz Alcid

#1 Angelo Kouame vs #2 Bright Akhuetie 

It’s only fitting that the final matchup for this division boils down to the two best big men in the UAAP today. And to determine a hypothetical winner in this matchup between Angelo Koumae and Bright Akhuetie in a straight-up one-on-one match is quite a tall order, to say the least. 

For starters, both players are so dominant in the league. Kouame is the anchor of Ateneo’s stifling defense and is already considered as one of the best foreign student athletes the UAAP has ever produced because of the value he brings into the mix. Akhuetie, on the other hand, is a former MVP who can easily give you double-double production on any given day and is considered as one of the more reliant offensive big man in the amateur ranks.  

A 1-on-1 setting would give the advantage to Bright. After all, he has more experience in post-up situations and is already adept on isolation plays. While he does not have the prettiest looking moves, Bright can easily size up his defender with his bruising physique, footwork and a soft touch around the basket. 

In contrast, Kouame scores more effectively as a screen roller and with grabbing the offensive rebounds for second-chance points. But he is no slouch when the ball is in his hands. He can use his mobility, footwork and his all-around physical advantages with his wingspan and brute force to just rise up against his defender. 

Having said all that, I’m going with Kouame on this one. 

Akhuetie clearly possesses the ability to break down Kouame but in a straight-up one-on-one game, it would take every ounce of his energy just to produce a basket against the towering wingspan of Kouame. He may have to go deep into his bag and consistently make mid-range jump shots in order to do so. But with Kouame’s length, that would be unlikely. 

Kouame will also have the same problems in generating points since Bright can also hold his own defensively. The difference is, while Bright can hit the 15-foot jump shots every now and then, Kouame can extend that range and consistently hit shots from behind the arc. And in a game of 1s and 2s, the ability to hit the two-point basket is so crucial especially when you have two behemoths going back and forth against each other. 

While this matchup is a toss-up from the get-go, Kouame’s defensive advantage, ability to shoot the two-point ball and just his superior physical tools will be the deciding factor in this game. 

I expect them to go toe-to-toe for at least 3 hours on the court until Kouame fires up a desperation two-pointer out of pure exhaustion to end the game with the game tied and hits the ring four times àla Kawhi Leonard’s Game 7 buzzer-beater before finally going in to secure the win. (Editor’s Note: Our apologies to Ange Kouame, who many tout as the second coming of Joel Embiid, for reminding you of this shot by Kawhi.) 

FINAL: Angelo Kouame def. Bright Akhuetie 21-19 

Elite Eight: Paras Region

By Gerard Austria 

#1 Kobe Paras vs #3 Dave Ildefonso 

This is a tough head to head matchup. Kobe definitely still has the advantage physically over Dave. Even though Kobe is taller, Dave has really gotten stronger and can lock Kobe down on defense. Dave has been a better shot creator and has definitely improved his skillset. Dave definitely has more tricks in his bag than Kobe.  

Since 1-on-1 is all about buckets, Dave wins this matchup by a small margin. 

Final: Dave Ildefonso def. Kobe Paras 21 – 19