We are now in the round of four of the UAAP men’s basketball season and the moment of truth has arrived.
Allow me to examine each team and share my personal evaluation on what needs to be done to make it to the finals.
Let me start with surprise second placer and overachieving Ateneo.
Let’s face it. One of the big reasons for Ateneo’s success is definitely coach Tab Baldwin and long time assistant Sandy Arespacochaga who have worked together brilliantly in leading this team to where it stands today.
They have managed to bring out the team’s limited talent through a system that the players have fully embraced.
The team’s defensive plays are definitely the best in the league today. Their perfect timing of when and what to use, depending on the offensive capabilities of their opponent, is definitely a marvel to watch.
However, to make it to the finals, they will need to get good individual offensive performances from Thirdy Ravena, Aaron Black and Adrian Wong.
As expected La Salle topped the elimination despite an embarrassing loss to archrival Ateneo. However, what La Salle’s coaching staff could look into more deeply is not their loss to Ateneo, as their players really didn’t play well, but rather how La Salle won over FEU in a game where it trailed for the most part.
This showed that the Archers’ famous double teaming and gambling defense that got them where they are today is now showing some cracks.
Another problem they may encounter that may affect their type of pressure and gambling defense is if the referees decide to get stricter and adapt the PBA touch foul policy to avoid rough plays.
La Salle may want to consider honing up its half court defense especially at the crucial parts of the game since the Archers really have more talented players athletically than any other bench.
The only team that can match the talent and depth of the bench of La Salle is FEU. The Tamaraws now have found a coaching staff that has maximized the individual talent of their very successful program that starts their recruitment early on.
Their challenge now is their players seem to lack the fire when it comes to playing the big and important games. If they are able to overcome this, they definitely have what it takes to make it all the way.
The entry of Adamson into the round of four did not really surprise me.
In Franz Pumaren, they actually have the most experienced and successful collegiate coach in the UAAP today.
With the recruitment of their prized rookie Jerrick Ahanmisi and the development of all their other players, they have managed to become a threat and can cause upsets in their final games. It would be helpful to determine and define who among them will take the lead and finish the game.
From a box office point of view, a La Salle-Ateneo finals would be a dream.
However, for fans of the sport in itself, it would be interesting to watch how La Salle and FEU will handle the situation and bring out the best in each other.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.