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Stats Don’t Lie: The Maturation Progress of Kevin Ferrer

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What a difference a year makes. [READ: Should Kevin Ferrer Jump to the Pros Next Season?]

Last season, with “superstar” Kevin Ferrer, pro-bound Aljon Mariano, and long-time foreign-student athlete, Karim Abdul, leading the way, the UST Tigers were expected to compete for a Final Four spot. After all, a large part of their core was still intact, and after two straight Finals appearances, the thought of not making the playoffs was unimaginable.

Not only did they fail to grab a top-4 spot, they weren’t even remotely competitive during their first year under new Coach Bong Dela Cruz. Internal struggles and selfish play undermined their campaign, as players took a me-first attitude throughout the season.

Fast-forward to today and the Tigers are currently tied for 1st place with FEU with a 4-1 slate. Considering that they’ve already played in two 50/50 games (going 1-1), this is a pretty good spot to be in.

While many are pointing to big improvement in lead guard Ed Daquiaog’s play, the biggest reason why UST is playing at a high level is because of the maturation of senior Kevin Ferrer.

Kevin Ferrer… mature?

We’re talking about the guy whose antics in the past have included taunting, flopping, sticking as close to his opponent without “legally” fouling him, and – as we saw last year – play “kanya-kanya” basketball to prove himself.

Yes. That Kevin Ferrer.

But, as I said above, what a difference a year makes.

After struggling with both injuries and a new system, Kevin is putting up MVP-like stats through the first three weeks of the season. Just take a look at his basic stat line, care of our friends at Humblebola.com

Kevin Ferrer Career Averages

He’s posting career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and most remarkably, field goal percentage. Digging deeper, his usage rate is up just a tad bit to 26.2% (from 25.1%), indicating that he’s being more selective and waiting for the game to come to him as opposed to forcing it like he did last year.

Ferrer-shotchart-2015

Last year, Kevin settled for a lot of off-the-dribble 3s, where he shot a mere 13%. This year, he’s taken less dribble pull-ups and making more of them (33% FG%), a sign of both better shot selection.

Better teamwork is also getting Kevin better wide open spot up shots. In 8 games last season, Kevin shot just 3/18 on catch and shoot attempts. This year, there’s a big improvement to 31% (7/19). This is crucial for the team, as it helps provide space for Ed Daquiaog to drive or for Abdul to post up.

Moreover, the biggest reason why Ferrer is far more effective this year is that he’s finishing on his drives to the basket now. In Season 77, he shot just 21% on drives to the basket, as he struggled to get all the way to the rim, often settling for off-balanced runners and jumpers.

This season, he’s taking the ball all the way to the rack. This has the added effect of him drawing fouls – he’s been fouled on 41% of his drives this year – an insane number that would rival that of Jeron Teng and Kiefer Ravena. This may be due to him being healthy now, giving him both more strength and confidence in his ability to finish.

More than his actual game though, Kevin’s maturity is best shown away from the ball. It seems as if he understands that his immaturity in the past may hurt his draft stock, as teams shy away from head cases and ball hogs (i.e. Roi Sumang).

One reason why Kevin may have “grown up” is due to his stint with the Gilas Cadet program. Playing with players at his level showed him what it would take to elevate both his game and his leadership skills. This season, if you watch him closely, you’ll see him huddling his teammates together, teaching, encouraging, putting his arm around a teammate. He’s clearly the emotional leader of the team and everyone – from the coaching staff, to the players, and the UST fans – all see this.

Should Kevin continue to grow and remain the rock of the Tigers, don’t be surprised to see UST not only compete for a Final Four spot, but have an actual chance of making a return to the Finals.

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Basketball

After getting first D-League experience, Zark’s-Lyceum ready to get loose

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After showing tentativeness during their PBA D-League debut last Thursday that resulted to a loss to Marinerong Pilipino Skippers, the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers have seemingly caught up with the league’s style of play Tuesday.

Zark’s-Lyceum displayed their true form and stamped their class all over the Batangas-EAC Generals with a 37-point destruction, 112-75 — so far the biggest winning margin the franchise has ever had in its’ D-League history.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams we’re playing against with,” said Zark’s-Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson after the match at Pasig Sports Center. “But the things we want to mind are those things we control.

“We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways.”

Robinson’s claim was strongly backed up by the numbers the Jawbreakers produced.

CJ Perez had 21 points and 10 rebounds; MJ Ayaay produced 15 points and 10 boards; and Mike Nzeusseu delivered 14 markers and 11 boards.

Even the bench made their presence felt in the victory. With guard Jaycee Marcelino spearheading the supporting cast’s charge with 12 markers, the bench contributed a remarkable 56 points to their total output.

Photo by PBA Images

“Ano lang, cinontrol lang namin yung pace kasi yun naman talaga yung laro namin, yung mabilisan,” said the 24-year-old do-it-all forward, who also collected three steals.

“Kailangan talaga mabilisan para ma-execute namin yung mga ginagawa namin.”

This week will be a rough one for the Pirates as they will play right away this Thursday against AMA Online Education. And for Perez, he strongly believes that they will be able to carry over this momentum of theirs.

“Oo. Nandun pa. Energy talaga yung puhunan namin para makalaro ng maayos.”

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Basketball

Bonbon Batiller shows what he can bring to Letran in D-League debut

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Photo by PBA Images

Tuesday proved to be a double debut for Bonbon Batiller. Aside from beginning his first foray in the PBA D-League, it also marked his debut for the Letran Knights, who is carrying the Wang’s Basketball Couriers franchise.

And the 5-foot-11 guard unleashed what he can bring to the table. Batiller collected 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists to help the Knights raise the curtains of their campaign with a 93-75 rout of Batangas-EAC Generals.

“Nagworkout yung pinagpraktisan namin,” said Batiller. “Nagbunga rin yung tinuro samin ni Coach Jeff (Napa) lalo sa depensa. Tsaka siguro sa rebounds — laking lamang namin sa rebound. Nagsipag mga bigs namin.”

But what makes him beam even more is the warm reception and trust he’s had from the Knights, even if he has spent barely a year with them after transferring from University of the East last 2017.

“Masaya po kasi tinanggap nila ako sa Letran ng buong-buo,” said Batiller, who normed 10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.6 steals with UE in two years. “Tsaka yung tiwala nila na makakatulong ako sa team nandoon.

“Kaya masaya ako sa pinakita nila sa akin.”

That is why the General Santos-native is hard-pressed to prove himself to Letran, saying that he’s all about giving back to the school that gave him another opportunity to resume his young, up-and-coming basketball career.

“Kailangan kong may mapatunayan na deserving ako sa binigay na second chance sa akin ni Letran,” said Batiller, who decided to switch schools partly due to academic reasons.

“Malaki ang utang ko sa Letran.”

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Football

Bienvenido Maranon scores brace as Ceres-Negros eliminates Brisbane Roar

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Photo from the-AFC.com

Philippine club football just achieved its biggest continental result yet

The inaugural Philippines Football League champions Ceres-Negros Football Club eliminated three-time Australian champions Brisbane Roar in the 2018 AFC Champions League’s second preliminary round with a 3-2 stunner away at the QSAC Stadium in Brisbane.

With the win, the 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Champions are set to face Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian next January 30, 2018 at the Haihe Educational Football Stadium in Tianjin, China to book a seat in the group stages.

Brisbane were the favorites for this tie and it showed as Ceres started the contest at the backfoot. Italian striker Massimo Maccarone handed the home side the lead at the 35th minute when he turned in Brett Holman’s pass.

Maccarone’s goal could have lowered the Busmen’s moral, but Risto Vidakovic’s men took it as a motivation rather than a downer. In fact, Ceres replied in the best way possible when Bienvenido Maranon scored his first goal of the match two minutes from halftime thanks to a scramble in the Brisbane box.

By all accounts, Ceres already made Philippine football proud at halftime. By this stage last year, Brisbane accrued a 4-0 halftime cushion against Global Cebu en route to a 6-0 rout.

Today, though, Brisbane faced tougher resistance at the hands of Ceres. This resistance turned into a full-fledged revolt at the 65th minute when Maranon directed the ball past a helpless Jamie Young to give the Busmen their first taste of the lead.

Maranon’s goal well and truly turned the tide in Ceres’ favor. Brisbane were stunned. The home side are the defending A-League champions, but are currently eighth in the table this season and would soon face elimination from Asia’s premier club competition.

Already up 2-1, the Busmen finally achieved some breathing space at the 75th minute when Omid Nazari scored from close range to give Ceres a two-goal cushion from Brisbane.

Nazari’s goal not only sealed the win for Ceres as it also propelled Philippine football into the big leagues. Not even a late goal from French midfielder Éric Bauthéac can prevent the Busmen’s victory.

After five minutes of stoppage time, Ceres emerged 3-2 winners against Brisbane Roar. Come what may against Tianjin seven days from now, the Busmen have already achieved Philippine football’s biggest result ever since their own achievement in last season’s AFC Cup.

Who knows? Maybe Ceres can pull off another upset?

Ceres-Negros XI: Doblas (GK), Super, Mike Ott, Ingreso, Maranon, Porteria, Schrock, De Murga (C), Munoz, Nazari, Christaens.

Brisbane Roar XI: Ingham, Bowles, Papadopoulos, Maccarone, Holman, Khalfallah, Oxborrow, McKay (C), Hingert, Young (GK), Franjic.

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EAC

CJ Perez, Zark’s-Lyceum vent ire on Batangas-EAC with 37-point romp

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Photo by PBA Images

CJ Perez and the Zark’s Burger-Lyceum Jawbreakers finally lived up to its hype as it clobbered the Batangas-EAC Generals to score a 37-point beatdown, 112-75 for its first win, Tuesday at the Pasig Sports Center.

It was an all-out attack from the Jawbreakers as they beat the Generals to the bite and took control of the game early with Mike Nzeusseu and Jaycee Marcelino guiding their side to the 48-33 lead at halftime which they will never surrender.

Perez paced Zark’s Burger-Lyceum with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while MJ Ayaay tallied a double-double with his 15 markers, 10 boards, and three assists.

Cameroonian student-athlete Nzeusseu also delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists, while Marcelino had eight first half points and wound up with 12 off the bench as the reserves chipped in 56 huge points in the tussle.

Coach Topex Robinson lauded the Jawbreakers for quickly adjusting to the style of the PBA D-League just days after falling to Marinerong Pilipino, 92-94 back in opening day.

“Medyo adjusted na kami on everything — the calls and the teams were playing against with. But the things we want to mind are those things we control. We just have to keep on doing what we are doing. It’s more on replenishing na lang on our old ways,” he said.

Earvin Mendoza and Cedric de Joya both had 16 points for the Generals in the losing effort.

Zark’s-Lyceum looks to continue to roll when it faces the AMA Online Education Titans on Thursday, January 25. EAC-Batangas, on the other hand, takes on the Gamboa-St. Clare Coffee Lovers on Monday, January 29.

The Scores:

Zark’s-Lyceum 112 — Perez 21, Ayaay 15, Nzeusseu 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Serrano 10, Baltazar 8, Santos 8, Jv. Marcelino 6, Tansingco 6, Marata 4, Liwag 4, Ibañez 2, Cinco 2, Pretta 0.

Batangas-EAC 75 — E. Mendoza 16, De Joya 16, Tampoc 12, Laude 9, Pate 8, Maguliano 6, Altamirano 5, Diego 3, Garcia 0, Dela Peña 0, Martin 0, J. Mendoza 0, Neri 0.

Quarterscores: 19-14, 48-33, 84-47, 112-75.

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