UAAP Starting 5: Week 7
The Final Four is slowly starting to take shape.
Ateneo and De La Salle are still the top two teams, Adamson University is at a stable third place, and Far Eastern University is holding on to the fourth seed.
National University and University of the Philippines are tied at fifth while University of the East can still crash the Final Four party.
University of Santo Tomas, well, will just have to play its remaining four games out of formality.
And with the league’s scenario explained, here are the players that made it happen.
Center: Issa Gaye (NU Bulldogs)
Well Ben Mbala can’t have all the fun.
As the reigning MVP struggled, Issa Gaye took advantage and became the top man in the middle this week.
Gaye averaged 15 points on 45% shooting, 10 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks to lead the Bulldogs to a 1-1 week and 4-6 overall.
The NU big man capped off his week with 22 points, six rebounds, and six blocks in a win over University of Santo Tomas.
Mbala still produced respectable numbers this week putting up 15 points, 17 rebounds, and six blocks against in the Green Archers’ 80-74 win over Adamson University but Gaye got the better of him this time.
Forward: Alvin Pasaol (UE Red Warriors)
Alvin Pasaol first reached superstar status when he torched La Salle for 49 points in University of the East’s penultimate game in the first round.
And that scoring spurt was no fluke.
The burly forward averaged 27 points and 12.5 rebounds this week as the Red Warriors split their two games and improved to an overall 3-7 to stay in the Final Four race.
Pasaol closed off UE’s week with a 32-point, 13-rebound performance in its 73-64 win against University of the Philippines and scoring 14 fourth quarter points in the process
Forward: Santi Santillan (De La Salle Green Archers)
Santi Santillan is often overlooked in the loaded frontline of La Salle especially since Mbala and the equally imposing Abu Tratter get the recognition.
This week, however, saw Santillan prove that the Green Archers can rely on their lanky forward to get them out of sticky situations.
The Soaring Falcons were basically going tit-for-tat with the Green Archers on Saturday but Santillan heeded the call to put La Salle on his back.
Santillan scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half as he helped La Salle take an 80-74 victory.
Guard: J-Jay Alejandro (NU Bulldogs)
J-Jay Alejandro became the walking manifestation of a stat sheet this week.
NU’s veteran wingman flirted with a triple-double in both of the Bulldogs’ two games this week.
Alejandro averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, and 6.5 assists.
Guard: Ricci Rivero (De La Salle Green Archers)
Ricci Rivero has risen as one of La Salle’s main options.
Of course there’s still Mbala in the middle but Rivero can provide the same scoring punch the big man regularly brings.
In La Salle’s lone game this week, Rivero put up 17 points to lead La Salle to an 8-2 record.
Juan Gomez de Liaño (UP Fighting Maroons)
The rookie has proven that he can ball.
In a game where the UP starters scored just a combined 17 points, Juan Gomez de Liaño put the Fighting Maroons on his back.
Gomez de Liaño put up 22 points, 10 in the fourth, in a losing effort against the Red Warriors.
Matt Nieto (Ateneo Blue Eagles)
Matt Nieto is clutch, there’s no other way of going around it.
The Blue Eagle showed his chops in Ateneo’s 76-75 win against La Salle this season and he displayed it again in the second round.
Nieto willed Ateneo to a 70-59 win over Far Eastern University scoring 14 points and pulling down six rebounds.
What impressed the most was Nieto scored half of his total points in the fourth quarter, two points shy of matching FEU’s total output in the period.
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