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Stats Don’t Lie Special: Can FEU go all the way?

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It’s time to face the truth – the Far Eastern University Tamaraws are the real deal. After surviving a tough stand from the Ateneo Blue Eagles last Sunday, Nash Racela’s squad is now leading the standings (along with UST) with an 8-1 slate.

They’ve shown that they can destroy an opponents’ morale when they go on lightning-fast runs (just ask the Green Archers, the Fighting Maroons, and the Red Warriors), or grind out a win like they did against Finals nemesis, National University. Except for that bump (which turned out to be an early wake-up call) against UST, they’ve looked every bit the title favorites that experts labeled them as in the pre-season.

Once again, Coach Nash has the boys running their pristine dribble drive offense like a well-oiled machine. Aside from getting to the rim at will (shooting a decent 43% as a team on drives), the team is also converting their three-point shots at a rate of 33% – way above the league average of a shade above 25%.

This has helped boost their league-leading offensive efficiency to an insane 95.6 (based of HumbleBola’s database). To put this into perspective, the next closest team is UST at 90.9. This means that over 100 possessions, we could expect FEU to score six more points than the next best offensive team. That gap is as big as the difference between the second best and second worst team – basically the rest of the league.

UAAP 78 FEU vs. NU - Tolomia-0277Leading the Tamaraws charge is in-form guard, Mike Tolomia. He currently averages 13.50 ppg, 4.62 apg, and 4.12 rebounds per game. Those may seem like ho-hum numbers, but when you consider that he has done this in only 25 minutes a game, and his shooting splits of 51.3% / 45.7% (!!!!!!!!) / 87.50% (that’s FG% / 3FG% / FT%), it’s surprising that he’s not being mentioned as an MVP candidate (due credit to Kevin Ferrer, who’s truly putting up an MVP-like season both on the stat sheet and on the floor).

To put this into perspective, here’s a comparison of per-30 min stat lines between Tolomia, Kiefer Ravena, and Jeron Teng as of October 12 (once again, thanks to our friends at HumbleBola for these stats). The numbers show that Mike’s putting up solid numbers, while producing at a more efficient rate.

NAMEMPGPPGRPGAPGEFG%TOS
Mike T.24.516.05.55.959.3%3.0
Kiefer R.33.616.36.44.535.7%2.3
Jeron T.31.816.46.73.043.4%4.0


UAAP 78 FEU vs. ADMU - Belo-1175
Of course, one of the major reasons why Mike’s been able to do this is because he has help. A lot of it.

Mac Belo is worthy of a top-four pick in next year’s PBA draft, as his athletic ability and improved outside shooting give him the biggest chance to make a Troy Rosario-like leap. Like Mike, he’s an MVP-candidate, but doesn’t have the stats to back it up. There simply aren’t enough touches to go around, but you won’t hear Mac, Mike, or any of the Tamaraws complaining about it.

Aside from Belo, the Tamaraws also have Cebuanos RR Pogoy and Raymar Jose doing their thing.

UAAP 78 FEU vs. UP - Pogoy-2181Pogoy is the solid #3 scorer for the team. He could easily be the man and featured player on just about any other team in the league.

UAAP 78 FEU vs. NU - Neypes, Jose-0100Meanwhile, Jose is the only “local” who’s averaging a double-double, and he’s doing it in just 23 minutes per game.

These two guys are really the X-factors for FEU. You may stop Mac or Mike, but there’s still Pogoy and Jose there to provide timely outside shooting and tenacity on both sides of the ball. Add in Arong, Inigo, Escoto, and Orizu, and you get the deepest team in the league.

Having a roster this talented makes it extremely difficult to stop the Tamaraws. Stats show that FEU are only in the middle of the pack in terms of pace, but that’s deceiving because the formula for pace takes out offensive rebounds. So, even if a team got 2 or 3 shots on one sequence, it would count as just one possession. While it is true that “possession” never changed hands, at the end of the day, the team that has more attempts at the basket (more shots) has a better chance of winning.

UAAP 78 UST vs. FEU-JoseFEU is also a strong at offensive rebounds, currently ranked third in offensive rebounding rate. This is even more impressive when you factor in that they are the best shooting team in the league at 44.5%. So if you take into account that they shoot 44.5% and grab 36% of their own misses, FEU either scores or gets another chance to shoot on 80% of their possessions.

So by pushing the ball in transition and going after offensive rebounds, the Tamaraws are able to maximize their talent by virtue of more possessions. After all, more possessions means more touches for everyone, which should help placate everyone’s egos.

The biggest change that gives FEU a solid chance of winning, though, is a bigger commitment to adefense. At the end of the first round, the Tamaraws had a defensive efficiency of 84.3 – a shade behind the UP Maroons.

More importantly, the Tamaraws have shown that they can get stops at crucial points of the game, their ability to sustain their massive runs. They not only have an explosive offense, but an ability to make life difficult for their opponents on the other side of the floor.

UAAP 78 FEU vs. ADMU - Wong-1288Coach Nash has implemented a conservative defensive system that forces teams to beat them from the outside. They mostly go under or through on ball screens, and make the big defending the ball-screen drop down near the paint.

This makes sense – they have athletic big men to protect the paint in Escoto, Jose, Orizu, and don’t want them so far away from the basket. Having big wings in Belo and Pogoy also ensures that they’ll normally win the rebounding battle. They also have pesky guards in Arong and Tamsi to disrupt their opponents’ flow, as well as mask Tolomia’s tendency to float on D.

Undisciplined teams will eventually breakdown and try to go into a shoot-out with FEU. This is a dicey proposition – no team can win a shoot-out against the FEU. They’re simply too loaded offensively.

Most importantly though, the Tamaraws have shown that hunger to win. The core of last year’s Finals team is still here and they want to show everyone that they can win the big one. A top-2 finish is a virtual lock for them. The real test will be in the playoffs. Win, and they’ll finally shed the chokers label they’ve earned over the past half-decade. I wouldn’t bet against them.

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AU

Impervious Lady Chiefs stay perfect after sweep of Lady Pirates

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The Arellano University Lady Chiefs extended their winning streak to 17 dating back to last season, after clobbering the Lyceum of the Philippines Lady Pirates, 25-16, 25-17, 25-11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The defending champions were unrelenting with four Lady Chiefs scoring in double-digits with rookie Necole Ebuen powering in 11 points. Third-year open hitter Regine Arocha and Arellano’s middle blockers Mary Anne Esguerra and Andrea Marzan each provided 10 markers.

Conversely, no Lady Pirate managed to score in double-figures.

“Maganda naman talaga ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Lahat kasi kami determinado na makakuha ulet ng championship. Alam nila (Lady Chiefs) na kailangan pataas nang pataas ang ginagalaw namin,” said Arellano head coach Obet Javier.

The Lady Chiefs also limited their errors to a season-best 16 while the Lady Pirates surrendered 24 miscues.

The Lady Chiefs look for their sixth win of the season when they face the red-hot University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (4-1) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Christine Miralles and Monica Sevilla each supplied the struggling Lyceum with eight point apiece.

The Lady Pirates (1-4) take on the undefeated San Beda College (4-0) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

AU (3) – Ebuen 11, Arocha 10, Esguerra 10, Marzan 10, Prado 3, Ramirez 3, Liu 2, Balanoba 1, Donato 1, Verutiao 0, Buemia (L), Flores (L)

LPU (0) – Miralles 8, Sevilla 8, Juanilla 7, Patio 4, Genova 1, Romanban 0, Bongabong 0, Marcella (L)

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Basketball

Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse to fall to 0-2

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23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing had 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse, the second-best club team in Tunisia and boasts four national team players and an American import, led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired-up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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JRU

Perpetual overpowers JRU to keep pace of Final Four

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Strutting their decisive height and power advantage, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas slammed the Jose Rizal University Lady Bombers, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-21, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Altas were still heavy-handed with their errors, surrendering 35 miscues, including 12 in the second set, the only frame they lost.

The Las Piñas-based program, however, kept a scorching offensive pace, bombarding the Lady Bombers with six blocks and 12 aces. JRU had just five points combined crom those categories.

“Mataas pa talaga ‘yung tendency ng mga bata mamigay ng mga puntos. Sabi ko nga hindi kami mananalo kung tutulungan pa namin ‘yung kalaban maka-score,” rued Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño.

“Pero, unti-unte namang gumaganda ‘yung galaw ng mga bata. Lahat naman ng pagkukulang nila, tinatrabaho namin para maayos sa ensayo,” the champion mentor added.

Perpetual’s six-foot-three middle blocker Lourdes Clemente towered over the Lady Bombers with a season-high 19 points which included 14 attacks, two blocks, and three aces. Winger Cindy Imbo added 15 points.

The Lady Altas (4-1) take on the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (5-0) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Rookie Dolly Versoza paced the Lady Bombers with a game-high 21 points while captain Shola Alvarez managed 15.

The Lady Bombers (2-3) face the College of Saint Benilde (3-1) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Clemente 19, Imbo 15, Sangalang 8, Llorente 7, Tripoli 7, Gual 6, Versoza 2, Umandal 1, Estanislao 0, Medalla (L)

JRU (1) – Versoza 21, Alvarez 15, Ebuenga 5, Montojo 2, Rivera 2, Sibangan 1, Bodiongan 0, Macaraya (L)

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Basketball

Marc Pingris wants Rafi Reavis to break Robert Jaworski’s record

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Marc Pingris was all praises for veteran Rafi Reavis Saturday night, as the 40-year-old center made his presence felt in the Magnolia Hotshots’ 97-91 victory — their third straight win — over Phoenix Fuel Masters at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The six-foot-nine Reavis finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks — a performance perfectly punctuated by a follow-up of a Paul Lee miss with 12.5 seconds left to play that knocked out the Fuel Masters for good.

“Papasalamat ako kay Rafi na talagang kababalik lang niya pero binigay niya talaga lahat,” said Pingris after the bout, as Saturday night was just Reavis’ second outing in the 2018 Philippine Cup after recovering from a hip injury.

“Nag-usap nga kami kanina e, hindi pa siya 100 percent. So bukas, ang sabi niya babalik daw siya sa gym dahil gusto niya ibalik yung lakas ng legs dahil wala pa daw,” added the 36-year-old, who also suffered a hip injury last season.

Reavis has been playing in the league for 16 years. Seeing the work he has put in, Pingris, who finished the game with 17 rebounds, four assists, four points and two blocks, believes that the 10-time PBA champion can play for 10 more years — at least.

“You know naman Rafi eh, katulad ko rin yan eh – rebound and depensa. At tsaka sobrang vocal siya sa team eh,” beamed Pingris, who himself is a 14-year veteran. “Walang siyang inaano, talagang sinasabihan niya kung sino yung mga nagmi-mistake, kung paano kami mag-adjust, so nakikinig naman lahat sa kanya.

“Talagang nandun yung respeto namin kay Rafi.”

And if Reavis stays healthy for the next decade, Pingris wants Reavis to exceed Jaworki’s 958 games played — third most all time.

“Nasa kanya yun, basta kaya mo ba eh. As a player, kung masipag ka naman at may disiplina sa sarili mo, kaya niya yun.”

Still, Reavis has a lot of catching up to do.

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