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The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack?


Far Eastern University

Season 84 Recap

UAAP-84-Mens-Basketball-FEU-vs-NU-Rhonjay-Abarrientos The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsFor the eighth straight season, the Tamaraws made the Final Four of the UAAP in Season 84, where they lost to the Ateneo Blue Eagles. They were an average defensive team backstopped by Emmanuel Ojoula and a dynamic offense led by the lead guard pair of RJ Abarrientos and L-Jay Gonzales, as well as the hot shooting of Xyrus Torres. Thanks to their terrific play in the perimeter and their good shooting (31.8 percent from three, second in the league), they finished with a 99.0 offensive rating (ORTG), which was only second to Ateneo.

FEU was the slowest team in the league by pace of play and had the least transition opportunities. The Tamaraws had their guards (Abarrientos, Royce Alforque, and Gonzales) initiate in the halfcourt and derived the majority of their points from pick and rolls, with only Ateneo and UE scoring more in the action than them. The talent of their playmakers allowed them to be an incredibly potent team offense.

Abarrientos, who has left the team to join the Korean Basketball League, led the team in points with 13.7 per game in just under 25 minutes of play. Gonzales added 11.9 points and 3.6 assists. Abarrientos ability to manufacture jumpers on a whim meshed well with Gonzales, whose athleticism generated a ton of rim pressure. The scoring threat of the pair helped Torres average 10.1 points per game while making 41.4 percent of his threes. Of Torres’ 36 made triples, 34 of them were assisted.

Season Outlook and Preseason Review

UAAP-84-MBB-NU-vs.-FEU-Xyrus-Torres-2669 The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsThe Tamaraws had one of the wilder preseason runs. They went 0-5 in the UCBL Invitational Tournament while playing with an incomplete roster. On the other hand, they went 6-4 in the Filoil Preseason Cup to capture second place. They did so by getting huge wins over a pair of powerhouse schools: UP and DLSU.

Their main guns, Torres and Gonzales, shot poorly in the preseason. Torres only made 25.9-percent of his threes, and Gonzales only shot at a 30.7/21.2/85.7 split.

To beef up their frontcourt after Ojoula’s graduation, they tapped the services of Season 82 foreign student-athlete Pat Tchuente. Size up front is critical for the Tamaraws if they wish to extend their Final Four streak. Their offense might have taken a hit with Abarrientos’ departure, so shoring up on the other end to make up for it isn’t such a bad idea.

Players to Watch

UAAP-84-MBB-FEU-vs.-UST-Chiolo-Anonuevo-7835 The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsGonzales is going to have to take a larger role in their offense given the loss of Abarrientos. But he’s not the only initiator on the team, as Royce Alforque looks to break out this season after a less than stellar campaign in Season 84 where he averaged 4.9 points and 2.9 assists in 18.7 minutes, but on a poor 36.2 true shooting (nearly 11 percentage points below average).

Ideally, Alforque is a good player on both ends who does a little bit of everything, and that’s exactly what he showed in the preseason. In 12 preparatory games, he put up 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.3 steals in just 22.9 minutes per game while shooting at an improved 44.9 TS%. The efficiency does need to get better, but it’s moving in the right direction.

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Another name to remember is Cholo Anonuevo. Anonuevo already made his debut last season, but it was cut short due to an untimely foot injury that kept him out after his first game. In the UAAP Juniors Division, the 6-foot-4 guard/forward was the complete package for the Baby Tams. The most intriguing numbers were his 3.1 assists and the 3.0 stocks (steals plus blocks) per game. He’s a wildly versatile player that’s capable of making a mark on either end of the floor – an event creator and disruptor on defense who also projects to be a great connector and finisher on offense. Assuming he gets over the rust of not having played in a while, Anonuevo will be key for the Tamaraws.

Adamson University

Season 84 Recap

UAAP-84-MBB-NU-vs.-ADU-Cedrick-Manzano-1906-1 The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsThe Soaring Falcons just barely missed the Final Four with a 6-8 win/loss record last season. They possessed the fourth-best defense in the league, but their offense was roughly seven points below league average despite the strong play of Jerom Lastimosa – arguably the second-best player in the tournament after averaging 14.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.6 steals per contest while providing a healthy 1.6 stocks (steals + blocks).

Adamson’s offense was plagued by poor shooting from deep. It only made 6.6 triples per game (third worst in the league) while shooting a league-worst 25.3 percent from the field. Among their regular rotation, only Lastimosa and Vince Magbuhos finished with an above 30 percent mark from deep.

Adamson ran isolations the second most among UAAP teams off of the strength of Lastimosa’s performance. He finished as the league’s best isolation weapon, but the team’s overall offense did not exactly perform well despite that.

Their defense was led by the dynamic defensive duo of Vince Magbuhos, who averaged 1.9 steals (third in the league) and 0.5 blocks; and Cedrick Manzano, who averaged 0.4 steals and 1.2 blocks (fifth in the league while averaging less than 15 minutes per game).

Season Outlook and Preseason Review

FOEO-MVB-Ray-Allen-Torres-scaled The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsIn the UCBL Invitational Tournament and the Filoil Preseason Cup, Adamson had a 10-8 win-loss record, though that’s a bit misleading – this is a much better team than the record suggests. In those eight losses, Lastimosa only suited up in three games and only played 16.7 minutes on average.

Their defensive core, Magbuhos, and Manzano, are back, and their offensive superstar, Lastimosa, has had a few months to improve. In addition to them, they’ve retooled with shooters like Ray Allen Torres (17/43, 39.6 percent in the preseason) and returnee AP Manlapaz (6/14, 42.9 percent in four preseason games). In addition, Matty Erolon showed an uptick in efficiency, making 22 out of his 53 three-point attempts in the preseason for a 41.5 percent three point percentage. This is a huge increase from his relatively poor shooting in Season 84 on limited minutes.

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Players to Watch

UAAP-84-Mens-Basketball-AdU-vs-UP-Jerom-Lastimosa-1-scaled The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsObviously, the first player that comes to mind when you talk about Adamson is Lastimosa. In Season 84, he absolutely torched nets, and it’s likely that he’ll do more of the same this time around. In eight preseason appearances, he put up 13.4 points per contest on 56.8 percent shooting from the field and 44.4 percent shooting from deep in just under 20 minutes of play.

There’s a good argument that outside of Ange Kouame, Lastimosa is the best player in the UAAP. He’s a true primary option at the collegiate level capable of scoring in bunches and involving his teammates, and he has high-end defensive potential given his length and timing on steals and rim protection. He’s probably the best perimeter scoring option in the UAAP while being the best rim-protecting guard.

The other man to watch is Manzano, who showed flashes of being an elite big man in Season 84. In 13 preseason appearances for the Soaring Falcons, the big man averaged 11.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in 19.4 minutes. It’s becoming increasingly likely that Manzano ends up becoming known as one of the better local big men in college basketball. His level of production last season was already a warning of what was to come. His production in the preseason seems to suggest that he has arrived. We’ll find out soon if that’s true.

National University

Season 84 Recap

UAAP-84-Mens-Basketball-NU-vs-UP-John-Lloyd-Clemente-2-scaled The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsThe Bulldogs featured a fun mix of new blood in Reyland Torres, Janjan Felicilda, and Jake Figueroa while being led by seniors like John Lloyd Clemente, Mike Malonzo, and Shaun Ildefonso. They were so well-balanced that they had a grand total of zero players scoring in double figures. They were a pack that played solid basketball on both ends of the floor.

NU’s offense was predicated on movement, as it found itself as the league leader in terms of opportunities off of cuts and in transition. They also got to the rim the most out of all teams in the competition. There was an emphasis on sharing the ball, as evidenced by 57.5 percent of their makes being assisted – A number only behind the finalists Ateneo and UP.

On defense, they can be described as pesky with only UP and DLSU averaging more steals per game. They tended to force turnovers in order to convert them to quick and easy points on the other end (hence, leading the league in transition opportunities and rim frequency). They had three players in the top 10 in terms of steal percentage: Felicilda, Torres, and Figueroa.

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Season Outlook and Preseason Review

FOEO-MBB-Germy-Mahinay-scaled The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsWith the likes of Ildefonso and Enzo Joson exhausting their UAAP eligibility and Felicilda and Torres jumping ship to UP, it looked as if NU was headed for a rebuild. However, they managed to be named the champion in both the Filoil Preseason Cup and the UCBL Invitational Tournament. They went undefeated in both tournaments and went 19-0 while scoring wins over UAAP rivals like FEU, UP, Adamson, and UE.

They achieved their success via the strong play of Clemente, Malonzo, and Steve Nash Enriquez, as well as quality minutes from their foreign student-athlete, Omar John. They still maintained the balanced scoring from Season 82 with multiple players contributing in their scoring output.

The Bulldogs have looked 10-man deep with multiple players capable of stepping up in any given game, as guys like LA Casinillo, RJ Minerva, Germy Mahinay, and Patrick Yu all provide quality minutes for the Bulldogs. It’s important to note that this success all came without Kean Baclaan, a late transferee. Baclaan potentially gives this deep team a legitimate star that they haven’t really had since Dave Ildefonso.

Despite a pair of preseason wins, the Bulldogs come into the tournament as an underdog. However, teams must beware as they do pack a strong bite. They’re a definite contender to make it to the Final Four with a chance of making noise deeper into the season.

Players to Watch

UAAP-Season-85-NU-Bulldogs-Kean-Baclaan The Short Corner: Who will break out of the pack? AdU Bandwagon Wire Basketball FEU NU UAAP  - philippine sports newsWe have to talk about Baclaan.

The 5-foot-8 point guard looked like a star with UST, and there’s no reason why he won’t be as impactful with the Bulldogs. In 14 games with the Tigers, he produced 15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in 23.1 minutes per game while scoring at a good 53.1 TS%. He was an incredibly productive and highly impactful player for the Tigers and will most likely be the same for NU. He managed to get two feet in the paint with ease and make difficult tight window passes to shooters or bigs with regularity. It cannot be reiterated enough: he looked like a star.

Speaking of small guards, there is another: Steve Nash Enriquez has looked like a candidate for a breakout season. In his 14 preseason games, Enriquez averaged 10.3 points per game while adding 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 20.2 minutes. He was highly efficient as well as he scored on a 55.9. TS% His scoring was consistent, as he finished above double figures in more than half of his games. With this pair of pint-sized spitfire guards and their deep bench, NU is fully equipped with an offensive punch and terrific depth that can compete against any team in the UAAP.

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Written By

Does hoops math and watches too much game film. Talks a lot on Twitter (@_alba__)


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