At 9-0, UE sweep possible?

21 08 2007

The UE Red Warriors are 9 and 0. When the season started all eyes were on the DLSU return, expected to take the league by storm because it was assumed they were hungry. Coming from a painful defeat last year in the hands of the defending UAAP champions, it was a lesson learned, for both the players and the coaching staff. To be in this situation, we wonder why if this run will ever end. Will it be another cayote adventure? We hope not, because the Red Warriors are in the ride of their lives.

And so we ask. Why the sudden change of scenery for the Red Warriors? Let’s analyze first what happened in their game against (the win or loose is the school we choose) Ateneo. If anyone will tell you that the Blue Eagles have no size, well, they do. The Red Warriors had a hard time taking out the Blue Eagle via the blowout route because Ateneo made sure they control the boards (41-36), and with their size, the Blue Eagles are second in rebounding (49.8 rebound ave. in the 1st round). BUT, the Blue Eagles had 17 turnovers (13 for UE) and UE had 17 turnover points. UE, however, finished the game with only a 5-point margin, 73-68.

Now, with their game against UST. Double Double performer and No. 1 league rebounder Jervy Cruz, in that game, contributed 17 points AND 6 rebounds. His 1st round average was at 16.7 rebounds per game. Cruz was seriously taken out of his normal kill zone – the shaded area. Japs Cuan that averaged at least 9 points per game by virtually attacking the paint only had a measly 5 points.

When Coach Dindo Pumaren took over as coach, they had to get used to his system – defense first and share the basketball. The coaching staff had projected for a long and arduous journey ahead. With each passing game moment, the people behind the Red Warriors always come prepared. Always ready to do battle. They also had to deal with the lapses and even manage the fear and anxiety of crucial games. 2 years after, they made it to the final four and on their 3rd year, they almost made it. Kelvin Gregorio, Mark Borboran, Elmer Espiritu, Joel Canizares, Narciso Llagas, Hans Thiele and James Martinez were all there to share the agony and the pain of defeat. This crew had grown up as players only knowing one thing – to play the Pumaren Way. They have embraced Coach Dindo’s system and I can tell you that they enjoy playing together as a team. In other words, after all these years of playing together, they have matured both as individuals and as a team. Critics will know longer question thier readiness to take their game to a whole new level.

Going back to their game against Ateneo. To counter the Blue Eagles superior size advantage, they had to make a quick double on the Ateneo bigs on the low block in the hope that, with their inferior passing skills, will cause some turnovers, because that is were UE makes its living -thier opponents’ mistakes. The Red Warriors also took advantage of the Blue Eagles’ lack of foot speed and quickness because UE’s smaller line up can surely run you down the floor.

In the case of UST the strategy was different. The Red Warriors had to go single coverage on Jervy Cruz because anyone of the Growling Tigers can hit you, almost from anywhere. But the UE bigmen were able to hold their own against Cruz. Cruz had to work for his points and catch the ball on the move instead of being static in the post area. The Red Warriors perimeter defense also did a good job in denying the entry passes intended for Cruz, at the same time, preventing Japs Cuan from getting into the paint by staying in front of him. This shows the athleticism and explosive qualities that the Red Warriors possess.

Coach Dindo has been proud about his team’s commitment to defense. 80% of what they do has always been a way on how to stop their opponent from scoring. I’m sure coaches in this league preach defense first. But the Red Warriors made defense a commitment, their so called team identity. The Red Warriors are a thorn on any execution. And to show proof, they are 1st in the league on turnover points (22.4) and 2nd in steals (5.6). They tighten the floor, they crowd you, they raid the passing lanes and they challenge every shot. For their lack of individual defensive ability they make it up on playing team oriented defense.

Offensively, anybody in the Red Warriors line up can log in the stat sheet. Anyone can make a contribution and what’s good about them is that – they share the basketball. With a league leading 19.6 assists, almost everybody makes the extra pass. UE is the leader in 2-point Field Goal % (48.8) and 3-point Field Goal % (36.2) and that makes them a very balanced team on both ends of the floor.

Most people say the Green Archers is probably the only team left that stands in the way of the Red Warriors for making a sweep plus an automatic Season 70 Finals entry. The rest of the opposition is a bonus. Can the Red Warriors not think of a sweep at this point? Can they stay hungry long enough for the hunt?

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16 responses

21 08 2007
whamos

Good observations Mike! Ateneo, indeed, was the only team that came close to the Warriors. I think the reason for this is that the Blue Eagles were able to dictate the tempo of the game, which is to go slow. What they did wrong is that they have poor handling of the basketball (esp. in the 2nd round meeting). UE is a typical run and gun team (when it comes to offense) and most of the time, they will run and try for a fastbreak when their opponents fumble the ball; thanks to their solid defense. At first, I thought FEU was the best match for UE but they easily whipped the Tamaraws in their first encounter. That game told us that speed and athleticism aren’t the answers to win against UE. I think the team that will beat UE is the one that will dominate and dictate the tempo of the game as slow mode, the team in which their big men are willing to sacrifice the post and will defend UE’s bigmen in the perimeter and the one that will carry the ball very carefully.

21 08 2007
LEIGH

“But the Red Warriors made defense a commitment, their so called team identity..

Offensively, anybody in the Red Warriors line up can log in the stat sheet. Anyone can make a contribution and what’s good about them is that – they share the basketball.”

-Mismo.

22 08 2007
stewie

good article.

22 08 2007
Mike Abasolo

You’re also correct the Blue Eagles did slow it down because they know too that they can’t engage UE in a foot race. And UE knows that ADMU is not a quick team. But you will sometimes, if not often, see ADMUs bigmen also run the floor and in the half court execute screen and roll actions to catch the ball on the move.

22 08 2007
whamos

You’re right Mike! I observed that during the Ateneo-UST encounter. The big men put screens even on Japs Cuan and Jun Cortez. The remaining opponents of UE (esp. the big men) must put solid defense on UE’s big guys even on the perimeter because guys like Borboran, Gregorio and Espiritu have good touches at the outside and will not hesitate to take that shot from downtown.

22 08 2007
harold

It’s still a long way. UE still has more things to learn. At UAAP, every game is unpredictable.

23 08 2007
Tiger Power

and borboran is allegedly overage…

23 08 2007
green eagle

la salle will give draw them first blood!

23 08 2007
jules

i do agree with mike.UE is a solid team because they have learned from the heartache of last season.And i also agree that Ateneo can withstand UE’s wrath.I’m pretty sure that Ateneo can be a tougher team for the next season.I think what made this season a very lucky season for UE is there hunger for that trophy and glory.For five years they’ve been struggling it to the very end.But they always end up as 3rd placer.If this is the season for the UE red warriors.What we need to do now is pray that they succeed.
Let us support UE.!!!!go UE fight for victory.

23 08 2007
LEIGH

Totally agree on what you said, Mr. Jules.
Well said.

23 08 2007
harold

borboran is overage? show us the proof. at least he only has 1 birth certificate.

23 08 2007
paul

UE is showing a superior brand of basketball because of their maturity, experiences, and good determination. A sweep might be difficult to attain, but they have a very good chance of making it to the finals.

23 08 2007
que que

To the green eagle. We know of blue eagles, but is there green eagle? hehe hehe peace…

29 08 2007
Rejan Lee's Number 1 fan

13-1 ain’t so bad 😀
GO REJAN LEE!!!
I LOVE YOU!!!
NUMBER 1!!!
21 FOREVER!!!!

29 08 2007
The Green Mind

Rejan Lee???????? He is the next coming of the overrated Joseph Yeo. Look where Yeo is in the PBA. Lee and Malabes are like headless chickens running around the court not knowing where they are going.

And yes…this is the real Green Mind. I may be a true Lasallian but when I see players like Lee and Malabes, I will be the first to criticize them

29 08 2007
The Green Mind

UE almost lost to the NU Bulldogs. They have had 2 close games and both times they won.

The UE – La Salle game will definitely be a good one. I think that it will boil down to being a coaches game. Dindo knows Franz game and vice versa.

Ateneo changed its look drastically in its last game against FEU. Benching Barracoso and drastically cutting the playing time of Jobe N. may backfire on Black. I also was surprised in seeing Escueta start at point.

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