Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

UAAP Season 78: Looking at the UST Growling Tigers after 6 games

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Looking at the UST Growling Tigers after 6 games
by rick olivares pic by efigenio toledo

I find it funny that television analysts say that no one expected the UST Growling Tigers to be where they are at — atop the standings of the UAAP Men’s Basketball Tournament. Obviously, they never watched the pre-season.

It was difficult to get a proper grasp of the Tigers as they didn’t have Kevin Ferrer available for most of the summer (he only played one game) as he was training with Sinag. Karim Abdul and Renzo Subido were injured. And their lineup featured former San Beda Red Cubs Norrish DeCapia and Evan Furaque, former San Sebastian Staglet Jasper Magno, 6’6” African Christian Kakonda, and former UST Tiger Cub John Mayor. None of them are in the lineup for the UAAP 78.

Ed Daquioag and Kent Lao carried UST alongside Louie Vigil and Mario Bonleon and that made for a pretty interesting line-up. 

Anyway, on to looking at UST this first round.

Points average - 68.0 (fifth)
Fewest points allowed - 61.3 (first)
Most three-pointers made - 34 (second behind FEU’s 50 triples made)
Points in the paint - 29.3 (sixth)

Incredibly, UST is dead last in rebounds with 41.2 a game. They also have the second fewest assists with 10.3. They have the fewest fastbreak points an outing with 6.5. They are also sixth in second chance points with 8.5.

If you look at their stats, UST is mostly somewhere in the middle of the eight-team league. So why is it that they are tops?

A couple of things:

They have an awesome offensive team.
A couple of years ago when UST made back-to-back finals appearances, then-Ateneo head coach Norman Black said that UST has some of the best players at their position if not the best. That applied to Jeric Fortuna, Jeric Teng, Kevin Ferrer, Aljon Mariano, and Karim Abdul.

This year, they have two of the 10 best players in the league in Ferrer and Daquioag.

Ferrer is averaging 18.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists versus 2.2 turnovers a game.
Daquioag norms 17.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals against 3.0 turnovers.

Daquioag and Ferrer have alternated carrying UST in clutch. 
In UST’s first three wins of the season, this is what Daquioag has done in the fourth period: 
12 points versus Adamson
12 points versus FEU
17 points versus UP

In the fourth quarter of their last two wins, this is what Ferrer has done in the fourth period:
12 points versus La Salle 
11 points versus Ateneo including three triples

During their loss to National University, both Daquioag and Ferrer didn’t factor at all in the fourth quarter. So that should give other teams an idea. Stopping them isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Karim Abdul isn’t his old self but he does make his presence felt at the opportune time.

One, their starters score 52.8 points, tops in the league. Their bench however produces the fewest number of points with 15.2 that is of concern to head coach Bong dela Cruz.

The Tigers do a good job of taking care of the ball. Their 15.5 TOs a game is the lowest of the eight school teams. They also allow the fewest steals in 3.2. 

Two, they are the best defensive team. 

After Ateneo was crushed by FEU in both team’s season opener, dela Cruz boldly told the media that if Ateneo didn’t want to play defense against the Tamaraws, then the Growling Tigers will. 

Well, he can apply that to all the other teams. UST allows the fewest fastbreak points (7.7), second chance points (5.7), and bench points (24.8). 

They do not give up too many fouls and are second to Ateneo in fewest fouls with 18.7. As such alongside the Blue Eagles they only surrender 11 free throws a match; a league best.

To close out their first round of play, they will be up against a defense-minded UE team. That bears a lot of watching.

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