This season epitomizes the best of what the UAAP has to offer. We’ve had 4 different teams lead the standings, with a 5th team winning 7 of it’s last 8 games to force a playoff for the last semis spot.
With the Bulldogs and the Warriors heading into a knockout game tomorrow we’re only guaranteed one thing headed into this week: a brewing war at the 2-3 spot between DLSU and FEU.
After getting eliminated by the Archers in the PCCL quarterfinals, FEU avenged the loss at the opening game of the UAAP season, “upsetting” DLSU to grab an early lead of the standings.
The Tamaraws struck oil twice, as they were able to snatch another win over the Archers courtesy of a last second putback by Mike Tolomia.
Let’s take a look at the numbers and see how FEU pulled out the wins
FEU’s Dribble Drive offense
If there was one game to see FEU’s dribble drive offense clicking, this was it. The Tamaraws scored on 10 out of 19 drive possessions, while drawing 6 shooting fouls and committing 2 turnovers. This means that out of 27 total finished drive possessions, they either scored or got fouled roughly 60% of the time.
FEU also did well on hand-off plays (4/8 50.0%), most of which resulted in more drives toward the basket.
Interestingly, FEU had mixed results on isolation plays, going 1/7 on wing based isolation attacks, but went 4/5 on post-ups.
What’s most surprising though is that the team got nothing from it’s ball screen sets, as the Recto-based squad was 0 for 10 (0/7 FGA | 3 turnovers) on pick & roll plays. Despite getting zero production from one of the staples of its offense, FEU was able to come out ahead.
DLSU – Didn’t make most of 2nd chance opportunities
One of the biggest things that glared out to me was that DLSU had roughly 98 scoring possessions (possessions that ended with a field goal attempt, free throws earned, or a turnover), which was 8 more than FEU, but simply couldn’t put the ball in the basket.
The Archers had 19 offensive rebounds that afternoon, but only managed to muster 4 2nd chance points. On the other hand, FEU only picked up 12 offensive rebounds but still managed to score more 2nd chance points (5).
If there was a saving grace for DLSU’s offense, it was with how efficient they ran the pick & roll. Out of 18 total finished ball screen plays, the Archers posted a PPP (Points per possession) of 0.83, as they converted on 6/16 FGA.
The Taft-based dribblers also established their inside game, finishing 4/6 isolation post ups. Not bad considering that FEU sent double team after double team at AVO, Perkins and Torres throughout the game. Decent passing out of the double teams also allowed perimeter players to go 3/8 on kick out passes from the post.
In the end though, it was La Salle’s inability to make the most of its advantage in the possession game that cost them.
In a battle of superstars, it was Jeron Teng who posted bigger numbers than his counterpart, Mike Tolomia, but it was the latter who got the last laugh as he made a putback off his own missed free throw in the dying seconds to seal the victory. Some coaches have described this game as the “game of the season”, as it was a great example of fluid sets and slick execution.
FEU – Lightning strikes twice
Once again, the Archers could not contain the Tamaraws’ forays into the paint, as the latter repeatedly broke down the perimeter defense and scored.
Tolomia & Co. didn’t produce at as high a rate (PPP of just 0.94) but the sheer amount of drives led to a huge number on the scoreboard. Coupling this with decent use of the pick & roll (ball-handlers were 3/8 37.5%) and isolation plays (5/13 on wing + post isolations combined), and FEU’s offense was once again clicking.
DLSU – Teng comes up just a little bit short
Just 10 days after his masterpiece against ADMU, Jeron was at it again, showcasing his talents and making his case for the MVP plum.
37 minutes. 28 points on 11/22 shooting, including 3 3-pointers. He also chipped in 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks to boot.
Just like the ADMU game, Teng did a good job as the ball-handler in pick & roll situations. He used 9 finished ball-screen possessions, scoring 4 times on 8 shots, and drawing a set of free throws on another play.
The biggest difference in the game though was DLSU’s post offense, or rather, the lack of it. Out of 9 finished isolation post ups, the Archers only totaled TWO POINTS as a team, going 0/6 FGA | 2/2 FTS and committing 2 turnovers. Considering how crucial this aspect of their offense is, La Salle can’t get away with just two points and expect to win.
So who advances to the Finals?
I know that I’m big on numbers, but I can’t help but feel that this series will be determined by one factor that you simply can’t measure by numbers alone: championship experience.
Despite losing to FEU twice, both games were close and could have gone either way. Furthermore, La Salle is coming off a rather impressive victory over the Bulldogs last week, in which they simply imposed their will in the post. Meanwhile, FEU had a huge mental breakdown against Ateneo, blowing a 19-point lead in the last 4 minutes of regulation. In playoff games, it’s the team that can remained composed and collected that normally comes out ahead.
Fearless Prediction: DLSU advances, 2-1.