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#FirsttoOne: Survival Kit

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Saturday, August 9, 2014, the day that everyone has been waiting for. The race to one will finally end, but the question remains, who will claim the crown?

In one corner stands the University of the Philippines: 27 straight losses.

And on the other corner, Adamson University, a team who, just a few games ago, claimed the record for lowest points scored in a game at 25.

In an interesting statistic, with a combined loss of 11 between the two teams competing, this game has the most number of combined losses for the last decade at this point of the first round of eliminations in the UAAP.

Here is our survival kit for the thousands that would be in attendance at the Mall of Asia Arena and the millions watching at home.

Tale of the Tape
tale-of-the-tape

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The Story so Far

Here are some notable quotes from our recaps of the men’s basketball games of both the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and the Adamson University Soaring Falcons.

UP Fighting Maroons (0-6)

CHAPTER 1: A New Beginning

UE vs. UP, July 12, 2014

UE would go on to build on their 45-26 halftime edge in the second half, with outstanding performances from Mammie, Sumang, and Jumao-As. A 7-0 run by UE to open the last quarter paved the way for the Red Warriors to build a thirty-point lead in the late fourth quarter, sealing the win for Derrick Pumaren’s squad.

NU vs. UP, July 19, 2014

The NU defense only allowed UP to shoot a devastating 38 percent from the field, which were mostly forced jump shots.

CHAPTER 2: The Battle of Katipunan, Year 36

ADMU vs. UP, July 23, 2014

King Eagle Keifer Ravena kept UP at bay with a pair of trips to the free-throw line, where he was 10/11, and effectively iced the game, 80-68, with his only made three-point shot of the game, a clutch pull-up dagger from the top of the circle with 2 minutes left on the clock.

CHAPTER 3: The Silver Loss

FEU vs. UP, July 27, 2014

Using a devastating third quarter surge, the FEU Tamaraws trampled the UP Maroons, 85-71, extending UP’s losing streak to 25 dating back to Season 75. In true UP fashion, the Maroons were able to keep the game relatively close throughout the first half but the Maroons just could not keep up with FEU’s second-half adjustments on both ends from there on.

CHAPTER 4: Almost but Not Quite

UST vs. UP, August 2, 2014 

For one half of basketball, the success-starved fans in maroon had plenty of reason to hope. In the next 20 minutes, the UST Growling Tigers would break those fans’ hearts by capitalizing on yet another late-game collapse by the UP Fighting Maroons

CHAPTER 4.5: Accusations? ACCUSATIONS?!

CHAPTER 5: Coach, oh coach, where art thou?

DLSU vs. UP, August 6, 2014

Last Saturday, the UP Fighting Maroons had UST sweating for 2 quarters of action. Today, the DLSU Green Archers would not give them even 2 minutes. The Green Archers, led by a laser-focused Jeron Teng, blitzed the hapless Maroons for 50 first half points on 62.5% shooting, en route to a 74-53 blowout of cellar-dwelling UP.

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AdU Soaring Falcons (0-5)

CHAPTER 1: New Kids on the Block

 ADMU vs. AdU, July 13, 2014

Ateneo forced Adamson to 22 turnovers and notching 22 points off of those opportunities. The Katipunan based squad’s stifling defense also forced Adamson to shoot only 29 percent from the field.

UE vs. AdU, July 19, 2014 

Struggling to find their rhythm in the first half, the Warriors were able to flip the script thanks to their relentless full-court press, which produced 14 Falcon second half turnovers – 22 in total – and efficient offense which hummed to a 47 percent field goal rating with 21 of their 37 made shots coming off assists. The UE bench also outscored the Falcon Bench, 41-24.

 CHAPTER 2: The Calm before the Storm

 UST vs. AdU, July 26, 2014 

 With the scored tied at 49, the Thomasians had a chance to take the lead with 29 seconds remaining but their ensuing play resulted in an Abdul missed jump shot which Jansen Rios hauled in with 10 seconds to go. Rios, who was under heavy pressure from a UST double-team, failed to call timeout and turned the ball over, setting up Lao’s late game heroics.

CHAPTER 3: THE STORM!!!

NU vs. AdU, July 30, 2014

The NU Bulldogs handed the miserable Falcons a historic beat-down, 62-25. Adamson’s 25 points and 16% FG shooting set new records for offensive futility in the tournament

CHAPTER 4: The Struggle Continues

DLSU vs. AdU, August 2, 2014

Leading 45-29 heading into the fourth period, La Salle would only keep their scoring barrage alive, in spite of Ryan Monteclaro and Alex Inigo coming alive to give Adamson one last push to help Adamson score 19 points in their quarter, their highest scoring output for any quarter in the game. However, the Falcons found no answer for the recharged champions even as La Salle started bringing in their reserves with less than five minutes remaining in the quarter.

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Strengths and Weaknesses:

Adamson University

Strengths:

While it’s hard to pinpoint what a team averaging 50.2 points per game might be doing right, the “thriller” with UST from last month that the Falcons lost by a mere point shows Adamson has some bite left in them. While undersized, Coach Kenneth’s boys know how to move off the ball. What they lack in height and size, they’ve made up with speed and footwork. Their speed and off-the-ball movement might come in handy against a team like UP, a team that can move around faster despite having the bigger, beefier players. They’re also averaging 42.2 rebounds a game, not bad for a team with hardly any big men.

Weaknesses:

Scoring:

Adamson is averaging 50 points a ballgame and none of their players are averaging double-digits. Clearly, Coach Kenneth needs to find a way to get the ball to their best scorers, right now the ones averaging more than 5 points a game. At 58.4 field goal attempts a ballgame, they’ve been having a hard time setting up their offense. Adamson needs to find a way to exploit UP’s own defensive woes and make sure they get the easy basket.

Defense:

Adamson’s opponents have so far averaged 71.4 points against them. In other words, Adamson has been losing by an average of almost 21 points. Adamson needs to toughen up and find a way to cull UP’s offense, which has been fairly efficient. They may need to find a way to force UP into taking harder shots and exploit UP’s box out woes.

Of course, there’s a lot more the Falcons could improve on, but we’ll stick to the essentials for now.

University of the Philippines

Strengths:

Run and gun:

For the past few years, the Fighting Maroons have built up a reputation as one of the fastest teams in the league. They’ve also built up a reputation for not having won a single game the past two years, but maybe that could change if they stick to their guns in this one. The Fighting Maroons are excellent in transition, and have some of the speediest guards in the league, among them, former Rookie of the Year Kyles Lao, Mikee Reyes and Henry Asilum. They also have a potent outside threat in Dave Moralde, who can score off the dribble and get himself in position quickly for the easy jumper.

 

Size:

Playing against a team as undersized as Adamson, UP’s big men may finally have their chance to shine. The Maroons need to push their big men in Gelo Vito, Moriah Gingerich, and Mark Juruena to bring down the boards and make sure the Falcons don’t have it too easy inside the paint.

Weaknesses:

Rebounding:

If you’re only bringing down 32.5 boards a game and your opponents have been bringing down 49 playing against you for the past six games, then you’re doing something wrong. If a smaller, younger team is getting more rebounds than you are, you’re doing something that is really wrong. UP’s big men need to toughen themselves up and go hard for every box out if they want to do Adamson any serious damage. At 62.3 points per game, they’re fifth in the league in scoring. Not that bad, right? The thing is, UP’s opponents have been averaging 79.2 against them.  Getting the boards and culling their opponents’ chances of scoring is the first step to getting their defense together.

Second-half jitters:

This one’s a mystery. More than once in this season has UP closed out a first half looking like they’ll be finally taking home a win. Six times has UP closed out a second half without a win. UP’s second half jitters have been heartbreakers, and while stats can’t point out what UP may have been doing wrong in the second half of their games, we think whoever’s holding the reins for UP may need to find a way to end UP’s second half troubles. Should their starters get more rest? Should the Fighting Maroons readjust their playbook in the halftime huddle? We’ll leave it to the much missed Coach Rey and his coaching staff to find a way to get UP to stay strong in the last twenty minutes of the ballgame.

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Ivan Villanueva vs. Gelo Vito: The Heavyweight Showdown

The beefy 6’6 Gelo Vito and the thick but speedy 6’0 Ivan Villanueva both saw action for NCAA schools in high school, Vito for the La Salle Greenhills Greenies and Ivan for the Letran Squires.

MPGPPGRPG
Ivan Villanueva257.24.2
Gelo Vito17.33.22.2

Ivan may be winning the numbers game so far, and his 15-point debut against the Ateneo Blue Eagles has everyone waiting on him to wow the league once more. But Gelo’s made his own name as one of the Maroons’ toughest defenders in the paint. We’re expecting both of these young men to come up big in Saturday’s showdown.

The X-Factors:

Adamson: Jansen Rios

Jansen Rios is currently the Falcons’ leading scorer at 9.0 points per game. Yes, you read that right; nobody is averaging double digits for the Falcons. He’s also contributed to the Falcons’ lucrative rebounding, averaging 7.4 boards a ballgame in five appearances.

However, inconsistency has been the 6’2 skipper’s greatest enemy. Rios was held to 6 points against UST, and scored not a single basket in the Falcons’ 25-62 romping by the NU Bulldogs. Rios needs to exploit UP’s faulty perimeter defense if he wants to up his game for the Falcons.

 

UP: Dave Moralde

The 6’2 transferee from San Beda has been one of the biggest surprises this season, at least for us who actually watch UP games. At 11.8 points per ballgame, he’s the Maroons’ leading scorer. He’s also so far shot 39.4% from the three-point line, impressive when you consider the whole team’s only been shooting 26%.

However, the Falcons are replete with quick-footed defenders who make sure every lane is covered, and he might find his favorite spot inside the arc a very uncomfortable place.  Moralde may need to readjust his style of play and dare to slash inside if he wants to prove himself the Maroons’ top man for the season.

 

Kenneth Duremdes vs ???

Adamson: Kenneth Duremdes

Coach Kenneth has done his best to make sure the Falcons deliver, despite their roster’s um, handicap. It’s a tough job to coach a team that’s made up of mostly rookies and hardly any true centers and power forwards, but we have to applaud Coach Kenneth for trying his best to make the necessary adjustments. He’s employed a rotating smallball lineup, with the 6’7 rookie Matthew Aquino as the only center getting big minutes. Ivan Villanueva has fit in perfectly with Coach Kenneth’s player rotation plan, as he’s able to shift between forward and off-guard duties as needed. And thanks to improving the sense of off-ball movement in his players, guards like Axel Inigo and Jansen Rios are able to get themselves in position and hustle for the ball when needed. WIth limited inside scoring options because of the Falcons’ height disadvantage, he’s looked towards improving the team’s outside shooting while finding ways to get the ball to their more efficient inside scorers like Rios and Villanueva.

UP: Rey Madrid? Ramil Cruz? Poch Juinio?

It is unclear what the effect of the suspension of coach Rey Madrid will have on his boys. Will they be motivated to give their best and play the best game they can, for their absent coach? Will there be difficulties when one of the assistant coaches handles the reigns? Will they be demoralized with the suspension of Rey Madrid?

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[nextpage title=”What does it mean to win?” ]

What does it mean for UP to win

Just like Gilas defeating Korea, UP will have finally broken their curse. The whole UP community – from the two batches who have never seen their Basketball team win to the alumni and alumnae who may have had enough teasing from their office mates – would be in utter bliss. The team manager has promised to give them a bonfire, something usually done by Ateneans to celebrate the win of their men’s football, basketball team or their womens volleyball team.

And of course, this…

YesUPWon

*It’s a fake.

 

If not…

twit*It’s a fake.

What does it mean for Adamson to win

 

Majority of Adamson’s players are rookies. Defeating a team of seasoned athletes should give the team a boost to their morale (take that Jericho Cruz).  Better yet, should Adamson win, they will be doing a great service to their Alma Mater – making UP just 7 games short from taking over Adamson as having the longest losing streak in UAAP history. Nobody remembers second placers anyway!

And finally, the Walking Stick Baby Skyscraper wins his first UAAP game! Get hype Falcons!

On August 9, 2014, a streak will end. A two-year drought will either end or new records of futility will happen. At the end of the day, however, whoever loses, remember this: Tiwala lang UP! Puso Adamson!

Stats taken from stats.humblebola.com
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TNT limits Blackwater gunners to snap two game skid

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Needing to end the funk they are in, the TNT Katropa completed a second half turnaround and thwarted an inspired Blackwater Elite squad, 92-83, to finally lay their two-game slump to rest, Wednesday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Both squads are now sporting identical 2-2 cards after the match, creating a six-way logjam with Phoenix, Rain or Shine, NLEX, and Alaska in the team standings.

“Our rotation messed up in the first half, good thing we recovered in the second half,” shared Katropa head coach Nash Racela of their slow start. “Going into this game, we knew that we gonna have a hard time against Blackwater.

“We knew that it’s not gonna be easy getting a victory over them. It would take our absolute best and they really able to challenge us, especially in the second half. [Good thing] our shots started to fall,” added the tactician.

Roger Pogoy top-billed for the Texters with 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Jayson Castro, had 17 markers on top of five boards, three dimes, two steals, and two blocks.

The Katropa trailed in the majority of the first 24 minutes, but it all changed come the third canto where they unloaded an overwhelming 16-3 run — ended by Rosario’s lay-up — to take a 60-53 lead with 2:56 left in the quarter.

TNT then never relinquished their position in the driver’s seat, even leading by as much as 17 points, 76-59, after RR Garcia’s open triple from the right wing with 8:51 in the final period.

The Elite still tried to come back through a 20-9 rally led by Mike Cortez and Poy Erram to knock within six, 79-85, but Castro’s three-point play conversion that sent TNT to an 88-79 lead with 1:04 left proved to be the game-sealing dagger.

Garcia finished with 12 points for TNT who shot 41.6 percent from the floor. Anthony Semerad had 11, while Troy Rosario flirted with a double-double of nine markers and 11 boards. Mo Tautuaa grabbed 15 caroms and scored six.

The Elite, after shooting 42.6 percent in the 94-77 win over Ginebra last Friday, shot just 38.3 percent. They were led by Erram with 20 points and eight rebounds, and Cortez with 14 markers on top of five boards and three assists.

Mac Belo, after averaging 20 markers in the last three games, finished with just nine markers on 4-of-18 shooting. He made up for it though with 13 rebounds. Main gunner Allein Maliksi also scored nine on 4-of-15 shooting.

TNT will look to post another win against sister team Meralco on Sunday, January 21, 4:30 PM at Ynares Center in Antipolo, while Blackwater will aim to bounce back versus GlobalPort on Friday January 19 4:30 PM at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The Scores:

TNT 92 – Pogoy 24, Castro 17, Garcia 12, Semerad 11, Rosario 9, Williams 6, Tautuaa 6, Reyes 2, Golla 0, Onwubere 0, Carey 0.

Blackwater 83 – Erram 20, Cortez 14, Digregorio 9, Belo 9, Maliksi 9, Jose 7, Sumang 5, Marcelo 4, Sena 4, Pinto 2, Cruz 0.

Quarterscores: 15-16, 36-43, 65-57, 92-83.

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James Yap breaks out of personal shooting slump

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James Yap came out of Rain or Shine’s locker room at the SMART Araneta Coliseum with a sigh of relief Wednesday night. Two slumps have finally been put to rest.

First, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ two-game skid saw its end with a 120-99 victory over the Phoenix Fuel Masters — a one-sided affair nobody ever thought due to the fact that Phoenix is coming off two straight victories.

More importantly, Yap’s personal slump had also come to an end. After shooting just a combined 4-of-26 in the last three games, the two-time league MVP shot 8-of-10 from the floor en route to a conference-high 20 markers.

“Well ako keep working hard lang,” said the 35-year-old of his performance. “Kung pangit yung last two games ko, last three games ata, huwag ka mawalan ng pag asa. Pag-aralan mo yung pagkukulang mo… I’m not 100 percent sa kundisyon.

“Yun ang winowork out ko lagi.”

“I think everybody expects James to play well but tao lang din naman siya. Pero you know, what we want from James is to basically play his best. Whether he’s in a slump, we still want him taking shots,” added Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia.

Aside from Yap, six more Elasto Painters scored in double figures in the victory. According to the 14-year league veteran, it was mostly because of the advice he gave his teammates: pull the trigger when given the chance.

“Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila wala nang isip-isip pa, pag open, tira. Ganun. Yun yung usap-usapan namin sa loob. Pag nasa loob na kami ng court, wala nang isip-isip pa. Tira! So at least yung kumpyansa nandoon,” he said.

“Sana tuloy-tuloy na, madala namin for next game.”

Wednesday’s victory truly means a lot for Yap and the Elasto Painters, who are now 2-2 in the team standings. Now, all that the seven-time champion aims to do is to sustain this rhythm of his as the 2018 Philippine Cup rolls on.

“Malaking bagay ‘to. Sa lahat ng kumbaga, pinaghirapan mo sa papakundisyon, at least nagbubunga,” said Yap.

“So pagpatuloy ko pa rin ginagawa ko or higitan ko pa para kahit papano masustain or tuloy tuloy na.”

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Caloy Garcia downplays misunderstanding with Raymond Almazan

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The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters were already missing the services of Jericho Cruz, Jay Washington, and Jireh Ibanes Wednesday evening. Adding to their woes was that their ace big man Raymond Almazan did not suit up in their game against the Phoenix Fuel Masters.

But the 6-foot-8 big man, who missed the last two Gilas practices, was not injured. He figured in a soft confrontation with head coach Caloy Garcia during their game against Globalport last January 12.

“Hindi kasi nakapag-practice the last two days so sabi namin pahinga na lang muna. Actually, after the loss against Global, medyo nagka-anuhan lang kami but I think everything is good right now,” said Garcia after Rain or Shine’s 120-99 against Phoenix.

“Well siyempre, frustration.”

During their 70-78 loss against Globalport, Almazan shot just 1-for-5 from the field, finishing with just two points, four rebounds, and three turnovers.

“We know that he can perform better than the way he did against Global,” furthered the second-year head coach. “Actually I told Raymond before the start of this season that one of my goals was to basically make him a double-double player. Yun yung target ko nung simula.

“But the way he played against Global, I felt that it wasn’t Raymond.”

The rest of the Elasto Painters are confident that the two will get a chance to settle things out.

“I’m positive that would be resolved and we just have to hold the fort. I think we’ll be okay,” said Tiu, who is one of Rain or Shine’s leaders.

“Hopefully, the guys can step up and when Raymond’s back we’ll be even stronger.”

Garcia hopes that Almazan understands that this is just part of the game. Moreover, he just wants what’s best for the five-year veteran.

“So ayun, medyo napagalitan, nagkatampuhan but that’s it. I think kasama naman sa trabaho namin yun eh.”

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With Rain or Shine ailing, Ed Daquioag seizes opportunity

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For Ed Daquioag, his big outing Wednesday night was just a result of him grabbing opportunities, with some of his teammates still recovering from injuries.

The sophomore guard was instrumental in the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ 120-99 drubbing of the Phoenix Fuel Masters, top-billing with 21 points on top of five rebounds and five assists — his best outing for the franchise so far.

“Yung mga guards like Jericho [Cruz] ‘di pa siya nakakalaro, so yung sa puwesto niya kailangan ko mag-step up,” said Daquioag. “At dalawang sunod kaming talo. Ang sama ng game namin nung nakaraan.

“Kailangan namin manalo.”

The Elasto Painters still have Cruz, Jay Washington, and Jireh Ibañes on the injured list, and it is feared that Daquioag may add up to it as he left the game for good with 7:33 remaining in the third canto after hurting his hip.

But the former UST Growling Tiger quickly allayed fears regarding his injury.

“‘Di naman siya malala. Baka nabigla lang. ‘Di ko kasi mailakad ng maayos eh,” said Daquioag.

“Pinahinga ko na lang kasi sunud-sunod yung games. E kung pilitin ko baka may maanong ugat or ano, kaya ‘di ko na lang pinilit.”

“Tinanong ko, sabi niya mukhang okay naman,” said Rain or Shine head coach Caloy Garcia of Daquioag’s condition. “Masakit lang daw talaga.”

It was still a huge night for the six-foot-one cager from Ilocos Norte despite being hurt and not being able to finish the match. But Daquiaog deflected credit to the Elasto Painters’ defense, which he said played a major factor in the win.

“Maganda lang yung defense namin,” said Daquioag, who averaged 5.8 points last season. “Nagkataon lang na yung points eh napupunta sakin. And yung mga opportunity sa transition, ginagrab ko kasi yun yung alam kong strength ko.

“Pero nanalo kami dahil sa team defense namin.”

But Daquioag hopes that he can sustain this kind of outing in their next games to help Rain or Shine rake more wins, as they aim for a strong push for the playoffs. “Hopefully madala kahit maglaro na si Jericho,” said the Gilas Pilipinas cager.

“Depende pa rin naman sa performance mo yan every game eh.”

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