Analysis: National University 72 vs University of the East 66
by rick olivares
First impressions of NU’s 72-66 win over UE — this isn’t the kind of result that coaching staffs for both teams envisioned. NU prides itself on its systematic style. They follow certain cuts, positions to slide into on the court, passes to be made and so on. UE with its frenetic style of play is opportunistic where they read and react.
Looking at NU:
I was a little surprised at the non-inclusion in their line-up of Cedrick Labing-isa, Ronnel Lastimosa, and JP Cauilan who made way for Marc Diputado, Joshua Sinclair, and Michael Pate. I thought that Labing-isa gave a good account of himself during the summer and brings experience to the point guard position, something the younger Marc Diputado does not have yet.
Furthermore, they tweaked their rotation and players who I also thought did well during the summer did not play well or looked lost — Dave Yu, Med Salim, and Chino Mosqueda. Third-string center Tzaddy Rangel played well; much better than he previously did.
The Bulldogs didn’t really have control of the game they way they liked it. There was lots of sloppy play and poor leadership by those supposed to lead them. Furthermore, the bench didn’t get the job done. That translated into 28 turnovers; nine more than they averaged during the summer. You can partially attribute that to the defense of UE and to first game jitters but it’s the lack of control by the point guards who had zero assists in this game. NU finished with 10 assists; 3.7 less than they totalled last summer and 1.6 less than when they had Gelo Alolino.
NU pressed although in spurts.
What saved them in my opinion was Alfred Aroga coming through in the clutch despite playing on a hurt foot. He scored seven points (and missed two free throws that would have helped his side) and grabbed a couple of boards in addition to finding Reggie Morido for a three-point play.
The Bulldogs would have had a little more breathing room but they missed four more free throws.
It was an ugly win but I am sure the coaching staff will take it.
Looking at UE:
The poor play of NU coupled with UE’s defense put the Red Warriors in a position to win.
I can understand the frenetic pace of UE's defense but a little more ball control and smarter decision making would help their cause. Last season, the Red Warriors opened against UP, fell into a hole, came back through its full court pressure then made errors in the clutch for a loss.
This time, although they had much fewer errors than NU, 14-28, they converted only 18 points out of a possible minimum of 56 points.
More to their woeful shooting or too much of it is their poor form. Yes, they took 78 shots! Seventy-eight while NU which won the battle of the rebounds but was killed off the offensive glass only shot 56 times! Yet of UE’s 78 attempts they converted only on 23 for a poor poor 29% accuracy rate.
The problem is their inconsistency and a lack of a big man to battle inside in the clutch. They were killed by Aroga in the end while their lack of a post scoring threat told on them. They took five shots in the final two minutes; all of which were outside shots - a missed jumper by Edson Batiller and four consecutive missed treys.
One of my key points is their veterans who have really underperformed. In their last playing year, it was disappointing to see Renz Palma battle inconsistency. He was a non-factor once more (2 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal versus 1 turnover in a little over 10 minutes). He got almost all those meager stats in the first quarter, didn’t do much in the second and third then was benched for the fourth.
Team captain Paul Varilla had his moments but so few and far in between. Ronnie De Leon is more of a supporting player who feeds off on passes to the baseline and putbacks. If he isn’t getting the ball then he won’t be of much help.
Clark Derige who had a great Season 78 was a non-factor as well. Point guard Edgar Charcos started and did so-so. He had more turnovers than assists, 4-3, and his crucial foul late in the game saw NU tack two free throws for a 67-65 lead with 1:44 left to play. Again, leadership, smart plays, and even better execution.
Looking at the poor play of UE’s guards, I suddenly realized that Fran Yu, who gave a good account of himself in his freshman season last year is no longer there. The reed-thin guard out of Chiang Kai Shek College has moved to Thailand. I thought that last season, he formed a great pressing and punishing tandem with Philip Manalang while playing solid 10 minutes a game. UE might have Ralph Penuela finally living up to the promise he showed in the pre-season of 2015, Alvin Pasaol who is a great weapon to the faltering Derige, and a returning Mark Olayon who needs more minutes of Palma will not perform well. But this squad has not replaced graduated center Chris Javier and Fran Yu.
Some guys ought to step up.