UAAP: Of parity and power shifts
When the current UAAP basketball season opened, there were signs of a possible power shift in the popular college tournament.
Defending champion National University was off to a bumpy start with three straight losses while former near-cellar dweller University of the Philippines notched two straight wins. For UP, there was a sense of revival, of days when the State University could compete with the best of the league.
NU then picked up three straight victories while UP has gone on to lose five in a row.
University of Santo Tomas, a co-leader with a 6-1 slate after the first round, has scored some big wins including a confidence-boosting comeback against Ateneo de Manila. The Blue Eagles and the De La Salle University Green Archers, two former champions with practically new lineups, blew hot and cold and found it difficult to sustain a reasonable run.
University of the East and Adamson University threatened Far Eastern University in their match-ups but could not deliver the finishing kicks necessary to upend the current leader of the pack.
So does this all mean that parity or balance reigns in the UAAP?
There’s palpable parity because no team has clearly dominated the field in the first round, even if FEU (also at 6-1) and UST are at the top of the heap. The Tamaraws have had games where they found it difficult to develop an early rhythm but just knew how to carve out key wins against Adamson and UE.
Outcomes of games have been hard to predict. It’s safe to assume that the coaches of all the teams and their battery of assistants have done their jobs and have scouted their opponents.
One coach once intimated to me that the key to surviving coaching in the Philippines is to know when to make the adjustments when your original game plan doesn’t work. Maybe the need to adjust becomes even more pronounced in the frenetic environment of college basketball.
There are squads groping for form (or, as we tiredly describe, “struggle”) since personnel changes have been substantial and are just getting to know how to play together.
So who will eventually make the Final Four?
FEU and UST look like they are going to make it and will try to sustain their winning streaks to gain the twice-to-beat edge afforded the top two finishers of the classification. The third and fourth slots should be a toss-up between NU, Ateneo, La Salle and UE. Adamson and UP need nearly flawless basketball in the second round to have a chance for the fourth slot.
If shockers continue to happen in the second round, then perhaps parity does reign in this current season. There’s nevertheless a power shift that’s brewing and could explode when the race for the Final Four tightens up.
Keep the sports talk going on Twitter: @sportssev.
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