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Stats Don’t Lie: the Anatomy of a Rivalry



Throwback Thursday: the Anatomy of a Rivalry

While basketball is a team sport, I can understand why fans are drawn to individual matchups. After all, basketball is probably the best example of a team sport where an individual can impose his will on the game. Luckily for UAAP fans, we’ve got a monster rivalry that’s been in the works the past three years.


Kiefer Ravena vs. Jeron Teng


The similarities are simply endless. Both have the athletic prowess running through their veins, with both players having fathers who played in the pro league. Both also have brothers who are quite impressive in their own rights. And as fate would have it, one plays for Ateneo and the other for La Salle – two halves of the biggest rivalry in Philippine sports. What more could you ask for?

Yes, I know that the media has been pumping out this story line for three years now, but it’s been the last three contests between the two superstars that have really captured the hearts of UAAP fans young and old alike.

Last year in the second round, the two went head-to-head with Jeron coming out ahead and hitting a game-winning jumper at the buzzer. Last month, Kiefer found redemption as he destroyed La Salle with a series of long-range 4th quarter bombs.

And then we were granted last Sunday’s masterpiece.

I was lucky enough to be granted a press pass last Sunday and caught the game live. Boy, was I in for a treat – it turned out to be a battle for the ages.

Just take a look at these stat lines:

K. RAVENA   37228/234/8662*

* Seriously, I can’t stress this enough. He has the ball ALL-THE-FREAKING-TIME, so to only have two turnovers in a high-pressure situation, with Babes Bolick, Julian Sargent and their lola’s covering him every second of the game – that’s damn impressive.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Stats Don't Lie: the Anatomy of a Rivalry




Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Stats Don't Lie: the Anatomy of a Rivalry


Initially, when I was watching the game, I couldn’t help but feel that the reason DLSU won was because Teng had more help. But once I looked at the box scores, I realized that it was only Jason Perkins who decided to show up (18 pts, 10 rebs and a huge shot down the stretch to put the Archers up 3)

As for Ateneo, regulars Elorde (14 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) and Newsome (15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) contributed, while PONSO GOTLADERA once again lit up his former teammates, registering a huge double-double with 10 points and 15 rebounds.***

***What does this guy eat for breakfast on gamedays against La Salle??? Pork liempo at Manang’s? That makes it two games out of two that he’s killed his former team. Kudos big fella.

After reviewing the game tape, I can see why Jeron had a bigger stat-line. Just take a look at how each performed using three main types of plays: using a ball screen (pick & rolls), drives to the basket, and isolation.

Ravena’s Offensive Possessions

ScoreAssist to teammate
PlayerFGMFGAFG%FGMFGAFG%Earn trip to FT lineTO
Ball screen2728.6%22100.0%00


Teng’s Offensive Possessions

ScoreAssist to teammate 
PlayerFGMFGAFG%FGMFGAFG%Earn trip to FT lineTO
Ball screen5771.4%010.0%01


We can see that both struggled on isolation plays, with the two combining for a single basket when going one-on-one. No surprises here – Newsome and Sargent are two of the best individual defenders in the league.

Teng and Ravena also attacked the basket on drives, drawing fouls and setting up teammates.

The major difference between their performances came down to how they managed two key aspects of the game: free throws and ball screen offense.

Jeron went to the line 20 times that game, hitting an impressive 85%. Even if you take out the four attempts he took when Ateneo fouled him to stop the clock, that’s 16 free throws coming from strong and aggressive plays in the first 39 minutes.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Stats Don't Lie: the Anatomy of a Rivalry

Jeron was aggressive in slashing to the lane the entire game

Kiefer also attacked the basket and earned 8 free throws, although he only made half of his free throws. But the fact that the Archers were able to keep him from getting freebies from the line was a major victory for their defense. Keep in mind that Ravena took 25 free throws against UE. Preventing him from taking free throws also kept Ateneo from setting up their press, which in effect slowed the game down, shifting the pace in favor of La Salle.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Stats Don't Lie: the Anatomy of a Rivalry

Kiefer would only attempt 8 free throws in the game. He would miss half of those 8.

The second major factor was how effective each was using the ball screen. Kiefer is a master using screens to free himself up and his teammates. However, against La Salle, he struggled a little bit, hitting just 2/7 shots for 28.6% FG% clip.  Furthermore, all 7 shots were of the pull-up jumper variety, preventing him from drawing fouls.

At first thought, it’d be hard to imagine Jeron being effective as a point man using ball screens. Last Sunday though, Teng worked La Salle’s pick and roll offense to a T.  Truth be told, he doesn’t naturally look to setup his teammates on those actions, but let’s remember – he’s a SCORER. The ball screens are to help free him up to let him do what he does best – SCORE.

He ended up finishing 5/7 on finished pick & roll shots for an unearthly 71.4%. What was most impressive was that he was 3/3 on pull-up jumpers coming off a ball screen. It’s clear that all the work he put in during the off-season is paying dividends.

So Jeron won this round, evening the season series at one a piece. With rumors floating around that Kiefer may forego his 5th and final playing year, this may actually be the last time these two go head-to-head in the UAAP… unless Ateneo and La Salle happen to meet in the playoffs.

 Kiefer vs. Jeron in the Final Four or the Finals? Now THAT would be something.


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