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Breaking down Game 2 of the UAAP Juniors Finals
by rick olivares pic by arvin lim
The Ateneo Blue Eaglets put themselves once more in the driver’s seat with a 78-76 victory over the National University Bullpups. If they wrap it up on Friday then the championship is theirs. If not, there’ll be a winner take all affair.
Here’s how they got the job done:
· What was obvious from the opening tip was the use of high screens to free up Matt Nieto and Jolo Mendoza.
· Then they attacked NU’s interior as opposed to settling for long range shots resulting in more free throws 25-18. Unlike the first game of the finals where Ateneo never lead, coach Joe Silva’s boys finally got to taste the lead after 46 minutes (including the 40 minutes of Game One) after Enzo Joson scored on a lay-up.
· Jolo Mendoza got untracked early in the game. With Mendoza scoring early, Ateneo had more weapons on the floor. And speaking of weapons…
· The bigs finally showed up with Shaun Ildefonso scoring six points. Jossier Hassan, who was called for two ticky tacky fouls including a phantom one, grabbed only two rebounds but both were on the offensive boards. Furthermore, he was tougher this time around despite getting leveled by an errant elbow.
· There was better bench production this time around – 16 points to the 10 of the previous game.
· Although NU won the rebounding battle 48-40 the disparity wasn’t as bad as the previous match where it was a whopping 66 to 48 in favor of the Bullpups.
· Because of the Blue Eaglets’ willingness to go inside, there were fewer three-point attempts -- from 37 to 22 (31% to 27% accuracy).
· They played better defense resulting in 29 defensive boards to NU’s 23; five blocked shots to NU’s one while both squads were equal in steals with four each.
· They were able to bring down the point production of Mark Dyke (from 20 to 12) and John Clemente (17-12) although the terrific Philip Manalang hiked up his total from 14 to 19 points.
In the middle of the third period, the Blue Eaglets played a 2-3 zone that discombobulated NU and that helped Ateneo race to a 15-point lead.
Here is what I didn’t like.
· After they took that 15-point lead they sat on it. Rather than build on it, they held up. They stopped doing the things that got them that lead – attacking relentlessly, playing great defense, and setting picks to free teammates.
· In their last six attempts from the field, only one came off a layup – I am not counting the free throw attempts; only field goals. They hit only one shot – a triple from Gian Mamuyac that probably saved the day for them.
· There were still stretches where they were shooting from the outside with NO rebounder within sight. What gives? If that means they stay high to prevent a fastbreak then why do they keep sagging on defense when someone attacks? They are giving the Bullpups all the space to shoot. Trust your teammates to help you out, guys.
· They were able to get three stops on the defensive end with Enzo Joson getting two rebounds and one loose ball. The problem there is he lost the ball every time and that led to a bucket by NU that hiked their second chance points from what was a 15 (to the 25 of the first finals game) to 22!
Here’s what I think Ateneo should do and keep in mind:
· NU will find a way to battle those high screens. So they have to run that pick and roll better. I found it odd that Hassan would set a high pick for Mendoza or Matt Nieto but would roll to the basket. Gotta be a threat, tall fella.
· They have to find a way to stop Philip Manalang. His drives to the basket were fewer – except on the fastbreak – but he is still more or less able to do what he wants on the court. Let the ball and the shot clock die in the hands of Jordan Sta. Ana or the other players. Manalang’s smart, tough, and willing to attack the rim no matter who is in front. He anchored that rally. NU just ran out of time because if there was a minute longer into that match, I thought they would have found a way to win it.
· Now that Ildefonso played well and now that Hassan is pissed after taking a shot to the head, they need to get more production out of them.
· They need to get Jayson Andrade more minutes. His confidence is soaring right now. You don’t want it to go down.
· If Miguel Ramos can be a little more aggressive as opposed to bring down the ball, calling out a play and not really being an offensive threat they will cause NU more problems.
What should NU do to extend the series?
· They played a little more individualistic. They need to whip that ball around like they did in the first game to throw off Ateneo’s defense.
· They need Allen Mina’s offense. I’ve been watching this kid for two years now and he can light it up. He’s got skills too. He can be a threat.
· Mark Ferraras should get more minutes. The dude, whether you dislike him (if you wear blue and white) or love him (if you wear blue and gold), can make things happen.
· They should find a way to curtail the production of one of Ateneo’s Big Three.
Friday…. It’s going to be even more explosive.