NU vs. UE
The final result of 90-55 wasn’t wholly unexpected. The Bulldogs remember losing to UE last year. It was a loss that cost them a Final Four seat and so you know they wanted this one back.
While I tabbed NU to win (and win big) what surprised me was how bad UE is. There has been no upgrade on their team. Like they sat pat and are just waiting for their African reinforcements (who are camped out in Laguna and yes, I know) to join them in a year or two. While maybe they had a game plan once the opening whistle blew it went out of the MOA Arena posthaste to go to Hooters. Instead of establishing Sam Razon inside to battle Henry Betayene, they jacked up shots like there was no tomorrow. Instead of moving the ball around, the Warriors to several seconds longer than they should when making a decision. The exception is Chris Javier who I have liked since his high school days in San Beda but simply makes bad decisions with the ball. College hoops is so much different, right?
Roi Sumang well… he’s both good and bad. He provides points but simply takes too many shots.
The Bulldogs were quite obvious in their game plan – take the ball inside and when possible find the open man to further open the lane. Early on, their outside shooting was sour but since UE’s lane was like a freeway, then why not take it inside? Jeff Javillionar gets my nod as Player of the Game for showing the Bulldogs the way.
The frightening thing is we have not seen NU’s best. The other frightening thing is, we have not seen UE’s worst.
FEU vs. UST
This I prayed would be the saving grace of Opening Day. Massacres are good if it’s your school but it looks bad on television.
In my pre-season preview for the late issue of Rebound, I picked Ateneo, La Salle, National University, and the University of Santo Tomas to make the Final Four.
The 73-72 result of yesterday with the Tamaraws coming out on top notwithstanding does not change my thoughts (and no disrespect to the Tams I just feel they have lost too many parts). Yet bad decision making down the stretch – a couple by sophomore Kevin Ferrer and a couple by veteran Jeric Fortuna killed them. FEU is not exactly a team of vets. How many do they have? RR Garcia, Mark Bringas (I will not count Arvie just yet), and who else? The rest are sophs. Whatever, they played a lot headier than the Tigers who looked good but faded in the homestretch. Why they never went back to their inside game I don't know. Looks like they fell in love with the outside shot.
One thing I love about watching the Tigers is how heart never seems to be in short supply. They play all out. And they’ve got lots of weapons on that team. The task for the underrated Pido Jarencio is to figure out their rotation. But they ran out of steam at the worst possible time.
RR Garcia… what can I say? That guy was ready for the PBA evening only his first year. How many players have you seen who never seem to have a bad game and find ways to make an impact?
You could see the alley-oop to Anthony Hargrove coming. Hargrove went in and Garcia waited to see if anyone would close him down. No one didn’t and the lob was easy.
When Jeric Fortuna tried to crossover the ball on Terence Romeo, the ball didn’t follow so it was easy for the Tamaraw junior guard (wow has it been that long now?) to swipe the ball and for Garcia to hightail it to the other end.
If there is anything that UST exposed in FEU’s game is that their interior defense isn’t the airtight one that was when Al Ramos and company patrolled the lane. Furthermore, there's a noticeable lack of inside scoring that wasn't there since Reil Cervantes was in FEU colors. But what an opening day win for FEU that will boost their confidence. My Player of the Game is none other than the Pinoy Iceman himself -- RR Garcia.
Of course these are all thoughts from the first game. Save for NU and UE the other teams will still adjust.