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UAAP S78 Women’s Basketball Stepladder Stage One: Survival Kit

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For most of the second round, the Ateneo de Manila University had looked like they was on their way out of the UAAP Season 78 women’s basketball tournament.

After a shocking 42-41 loss at the hands of the UP Lady Maroons, the Lady Eagles lost three straight to fall to 4-7 in the team standings — and on the brink of elimination.

But the struggle came to an end as the Lady Eagles drew strength from offensive contributors. Ateneo won three of their last four matches including the fourth seed play-off over UST.

In those wins, Ateneo outscored their foes by 9.7 points and had different players topscore. Heading into the rubber match against the third-seeded University of the East Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, the Lady Eagles should show more teamwork to extend their season.

Danica Jose is still the focal point of Ateneo’s play on both ends of the floor. She has team-high averages of 13.8 PPG, 11 RPG, and a league-leading 2.6 BPG. Her activity, especially on the defensive end, will be key — although she needs help.

Ateneo’s next leading scorer is guard Hazelle Yam with 8.2 PPG, but outside of the duo, the Lady Eagles should find more options. Jollina Go, Claire Aseron, and Cara Buendia are some of the players who have shown the ability to contribute in big games, and the upcoming do-or-die match should be a showcase of depth for Ateneo.

The Lady Eagles should also control the glass and protect the inside to boost their chances of advancing.

The Lady Warriors have been impressive in their third year under coach Aileen Lebornio, who has finally seen her troops display winning form.

UE was only 5-23 combined in the last two seasons but finished with a 7-7 card this time around. The Lady Warriors opened the season on a 3-0 card, and have not yet slowed down towards the tail-end of the season, picking crucial wins over UST and Adamson.

Three leaders have stepped up for UE this season. Chery Ano-os finished third in the overall statistical points tally, and is the Lady Warriors’ main shot creator. Ano-os averaged 14.3 PPG and 3.6 APG in the season. She enjoys valuable support with Ruthlaine Tacula (11.2 PPG) and Eunique Chan (10.6 PPG) both norming double-digit averages in points too.

Overall, the Lady Warriors have four players in the top 20 of the MVP race, and Lebornio should rely on UE’s multi-pronged attack to keep Ateneo guessing.

Keys to winning


Ateneo: Share the load

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times UAAP S78 Women's Basketball Stepladder Stage One: Survival Kit
Jose and Yam are talented offensive weapons but Ateneo cannot afford to just rely on their 1-2 punch. The veterans must step up in the do-or-die affair, and the Lady Eagles must also get stops. It is a game which may be decided by their ability to step up on defense.

UE: Attack the paint
Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times UAAP S78 Women's Basketball Stepladder Stage One: Survival Kit
Ano-os and Tacula are two of the best in getting to the interior off the dribble. They should use this speed against Ateneo’s perimeter defenders and try to create scoring opportunities for the team. With bigs like Love Joy Sto. Domingo (12.4 RPG) and Chan, staying aggressive on offense might pave the way for UE to advance even farther in the competition.

Awaiting the winner are the second-seeded De La Salle Lady Archers, which also enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semi-finals.

X-Factors


Ateneo: Cara Buendia

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times UAAP S78 Women's Basketball Stepladder Stage One: Survival Kit

Head coach Erika Dy has started Buendia at the four spot due to her ability to drive and hit Jose inside the paint off a high-low play/high post entry pass. Buendia should be able to read the defense and make impact on both ends of the floor.

UE: Love Joy Sto. Domingo
Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times UAAP S78 Women's Basketball Stepladder Stage One: Survival Kit
One of UE’s twin towers, Sto. Domingo must hold her ground against Jose. Jose has outplayed her counterparts in the last three games and being one of the best rebounders and interior defenders in the season, Sto. Domingo should limit the imposing Lady Eagle.

Prognosis


Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times UAAP S78 Women's Basketball Stepladder Stage One: Survival Kit

Ateneo wins by 5 points. The Lady Eagles are on a roll, and have shown they are more than their star duo of Jose and Yam.

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