By Aljo Dolores
UP Fighting Maroons def. UE Red Warriors 62-56
Javi Gomez de Liaño, UP (15 pts, 2/5 triples)
This season has been Javi’s breakout year so far as he continues to be the most consistent player in UP. He converted two shots from deep in what has been an abysmal performance from the three-point area by hiss team (23.83%). While the rest of the Fighting Maroons are still struggling with their shooting, Javi seems to know when and where to take his shots.
Alex Diakhite, UE (21 pts, 17 rebs, 5 asts)
My, oh my, oh my. A non-100% Diakhite annihilated the Fighting Maroons in the post. He started slow, even awkward as he looked lost on the court. It was understandable though because he just came back from an illness. But when the early game jitters wore off, the beast came out. He posted a double-double while going up against the reigning MVP.
Jun Manzo, UP (6 rebs, 8 asts, 2 stls, 1 blk, 2 TO)
This is the kind of performance that UP needs from Manzo. As it is, the team is already full of scorers, so there is a need for a floor general to direct the plays. He did that and more. Despite missing all of his attempts from deep, Manzo had a dime party during this game, finding his open teammates left and right. He also filled the other columns of the stat sheet, including that clutch block against Rey Suerte to seal the win for UP.
- UP started the game strong by moving the ball well. Halfway through the first quarter and they already had four assists, a little teaser of the Fighting Maroons’ offensive prowess when they work together. However, problems kicked in as soon as they went back to one-on-one actions. That was highlighted in the third quarter when it took them about six minutes before they could crack a field goal.
- UP limited UE to just 56 points, their lowest output in the season thus far. The Fighting Maroons let the Red Warriors shoot 22 triples, but only converted two. Even Diakhite attempted four times, to no avail. Sans Diakhite’s 21-point explosion, UP did a good job of letting UE take the lesser percentage shots in the game.
- Rey Suerte (and for this game, also known as Rey Malas) went ice cold this game. After going off for 31 points against La Salle, the reigning CESAFI MVP was practically a non-factor on offense. He only scored four points and missed 13 of his 15 shots in 35 minutes of play. The platoon of athletic wings from the UP side must have bothered him a lot throughout the entire game for him to bomb offensively like he did.
- The challenge now for Coach Bo Perasol is to find a way for Kobe, Ricci and Juan to co-exist on offense. They made only seven shots in 30 attempts combined. That’s awful by any measure. Again, the problem comes back to the stagnation of offense, which creates suboptimal shot attempts. Just take a look at the younger GDL. He failed to register a single assist in the game despite having the reputation of being a good initiator on offense. Most of the time, he’s not given the touches he needs to use his creator skills to the fullest. This is probably part of the growing pains of a loaded UP team. But it’s been five games already, and the lack of ball movement is getting painful to watch.