|Hubert Cani attempts a trey!|
WIP Blue Eagles take down Letran
by rick olivares
The Ateneo Blue Eagles finally with almost its full complement of players (they still do not have Raffy Verano who won’t arrive until the second week of June) took to the Filoil Flying V Centre against Letran last Thursday, May 26.
Ateneo led from the very start and never looked back on its way to a 66-53 win. They had to repel a couple of second half charges by the Knights including a fourth quarter stand that ultimately took the sails out of the defending NCAA champions. The Blue Eagles are at 2-1 while the Knights fell to 2-3.
Here are my thoughts about the 2016-17 Ateneo Blue Eagles THUS FAR and based on their THREE Filoil Flying V Premier Cup matches (and not any other tournament).
Before that, here’s a brief Summary of the Blue Eagles of Season 78:
- 7th in offense with 71.5 ppg
- shot a lot of three-pointers
- decent in the paint
- hardly got to the free throw line since they opted to jack shots from the outside.
- Third in rebounding
- Second best in assists with 15.2 but the bulk of these came from Kiefer Ravena
- Outstanding in shot blocking because of Ikeh Chibueze
- Managed their turnovers pretty well
- 3rd best defensive team after NU and FEU.
What do they need to work on aside from team chemistry and determining what the final line up will be?
Play better defense.
Right now, Ateneo is:
outrebounding opponents 51.3-40.3
holding foes to 37% FG shooting
But they need to work on:
Keeping turnovers down as the Blue Eagles average over 22 errors a match while only forcing foes into 16 TOs.
Shotblocking wise… not yet there but mainly because Ikeh has played in limited minutes.
The Knights had six airballs against Ateneo. Four of them because of good defense.
Plus, the team isn’t taking care of the ball well as opponents have had the advantage in steals 14-8.
Replace the 36 points from Kiefer Ravena, Von Pessumal, and Alfonso Gotladera.
We’re going to need more time to figure out where these points will come from.
Believe it or not, Chibueze Ikeh is leading the team in scoring with 12.0 points while Kris Porter is scoring 9.0 points (in three outings). Now unless Ikeh will become more assertive and try to take everyone’s head off with strong inside play, I am not sure he will consistently lead the team in scoring. Porter… want to see more of what he can do and do it consistently.
So far, Thirdy Ravena has had two good games. Let me clarify that — good; not great. Needs to be more confident and assertive. Currently averaging 7.6 points.
CJ Perez had a good (NOT GREAT) debut as he scored 8 points to go with 8 rebounds and 1 assist in 12 minutes of play.
I expect Adrian Wong, Tyler Tio, Aaron Black to score points. Hopefully, Raffy Verano, when he comes in, can help too.
Are we losing anyone else?
Arvin Tolentino and possibly, Jerie Pingoy. Both to academics.
Who will replace what Arvin and Jerie brought to the team last year?
Porter looks better this year. As for Jerie, Tyler Tio, the return of Anton Asistio, a more confident Matt Nieto and Hubert Cani. And CJ Perez with his passing. You know who I am liking too… Quinito Banzon.
Do the Blue Eagles have an inside game?
If we mean by a post up guy then that’s going to be Ikeh, Ports, and John Apacible. Isaac Go will throw in some points here and there. GBoy will help. But basically it’s a five-headed monster.
Now attacking inside… CJ, Tyler, Matt, Aaron.
Can these Blue Eagles get to the line?
Ateneo was seventh in free throw attempts last season. So far in this tournament, the blue and white is getting to the line 28 times.
The opposition has shot an average of 23 FTs in the same number of matches.
Shooting more free throws could mean a team is more aggressive in their attack and a possible willingness to take it in instead of firing from beyond area code range. It also means putting the other team into foul trouble.
Who could take those shots in the clutch?
Adrian, CJ, Aaron, Anton, Jolo Mendoza if he can show what he can do. And if you ask me… Tyler.
What other observations do I have so far?
They always make the extra pass. That’s good. Move the ball around and find the open man. MUCH better ball movement this year as opposed to last season.
However, in my opinion, I think they need to push that ball. I think the guards dribble the ball too much before making a move. I find them a little too passive waiting to set up thos ehalf court sets of theirs. Maybe that’s the game plan. But based on what I saw against Letran and a few of their other matches, Ateneo needs to step on that gas pedal. I thought on a few occasions, they had the man advantage but they opted to slow it down. I think the team has the players who can play the game at warp speed — CJ, Matt, Tyler, Aaron, Hubert, Anton, and Adrian.
Having said all of these, I like what I see. Even if the team is a work in progress.