Can Super Sumang save UE’s season?
Ask anyone you know who plays basketball, and I can guarantee you that at least once in his life, he has shot around at his local park and simulated a late-game situation where he has the ball in his hands at the top of the key, his team down by a bucket and everyone and his lola counting on him to deliver. While he’s dribbling around, channeling the spirits of clutch players like James Yap and Paul Lee, he’s saying out loud:
“5…4…3…2…1…. SWISH!!! Who’s the man? WHO’S THE MAN?! ”
Super Sumang was the protagonist to, arguably, the most iconic shot of the UAAP Season 76’s basketball tournament.
It was a Paul Lee-esque shot… WITH PAUL LEE IN ATTENDANCE! After that classic showdown with the Bobby Ray Parks’ led Bulldogs squad, Roi Sumang was crowned the heir to the Leethal Weapon and the absolute King Warrior.
This season, Roi Sumang has had this opportunity not once but TWICE. Unfortunately, he came up short both times.
After opening the season with two solid outings, the Red Warriors have dropped their last 3 games, all of which they led by at least 7 points at one point. This puts the team in a rather uneasy position, as it still has games against the Blue Eagles (August 10) and the Growling Tigers (August 13).
Expectations for the UE Red Warriors were high entering Season 77 especially since the team retained several veterans and even added foreign student-athlete Moustapha Arafat to their lineup. Coupling this with a couple of ass-whoopings against cellar dwellers UP and Adamson only hyped up the team even more. With the race wide open – aside from the aforementioned winless teams, the remaining 6 teams all have a legit chance of making the finals – their fan base was saying that UE’s time might be now.
Fairly or unfairly, Sumang is burdened with the weight of these expectations.
The question is, can Sumang bounce back and lead his team back?
First let’s take a look at Roi Sumang’s performance compared to that of last season.
The drop in Sumang’s averages can be attributed to this surprising statistic:
|SEASON||MINUTES PER GAME|
He’s playing far less minutes this season, just 24.7, compared to 35.7 MPG last season.
He’s also had less responsibility on offense, as the team is spreading the wealth. Entering the NU game, they had 7 guys average 7 or more points.
However, a look at his per-30 minute figures shows that only his scoring has dipped so far.
Per 30 minutes numbers:
Interestingly enough, Sumang is shooting slightly better this season compared to last season.
But he’s taking 6 LESS shots per game this season.
Normally, a coach would probably be okay with this, as it means that everyone is getting their looks. However, with UE’s season at a crossroads, one can’t help but wonder whether Coach Derrick Pumaren will be more inclined to give Sumang more opportunities to get his rhythm going and lead the Warriors in battle.
So what can we expect UE to do over the next couple of games to get Sumang going?
First, don’t expect UE to stop their vaunted press, whether or not it’s working. Derrick Pumaren is a proud man and there’s no way he’ll be locking up his family’s bread and butter defense just because the Warriors aren’t getting steals. Besides, it’s the best way to get Sumang some easy buckets in transition. He’s one of the quickest players in the league right now and with UE’s blitzing press break, he should be getting more opportunities to score on the break. He’s currently 7/9 on isolation fastbreak opportunities and he should continue to look for these.
Second, we may see them play back-up point guard Dan Alberto – who by the way, is playing outstanding basketball and shooting LIGHTS OUT – and Roi simultaneous. Not only would this add another shooter on the floor to help open driving lanes for Sumang, but it also allows him to play off-the-ball. Sumang is a capable shooter, but he’s only shot 2/7 in catch and shoot situations in five games, which means that nobody is creating for him. Having Alberto in the game with him could help ease some of the burden to create.
Third – and this one mostly falls on Roi – he has to get more reps. He’s currently 3/15 on off-the-dribble pull-up jumpers, a dismal 20%. Yes, Sumang is a penetrator at heart, but he’s gotta keep defenses honest. Moreover, he’s only 1/7 on pick & roll plays where he takes a jumper. If he keeps settling for those types of shots and doesn’t make them, the defense will simply sag on him, making it nearly impossible for him to get to the lane.
Sumang has a tough task ahead of him, as chances are he’ll be guarded by the likes of Nico Elorde and Kiefer Ravena on Sunday and Louis Vigil and Sheik Sheriff on August 13. If he explodes and drops over 20 points – which he has failed to do so far this season – we may see UE pull-off an upset and right the ship. However, if the Eagles and the Tigers shackle UE’s main gun, this could signal the beginning of another disappointing season for the Red Warriors.
*Per 30 minutes numbers taken from stats.humblebola.com