UAAP Season 81 Starting 5: Week 9
(The Inquirer Sports’ Starting 5 weekly ranking is based on the players’ individual numbers and their respective team’s outcomes during the competition week.)
The Final Four is almost set and the race has dwindled to just five teams.
Ateneo and Adamson University already own the top two seeds and have secured its respective twice-to-beat advantages for the semifinals while De La Salle, Far Eastern University, and University of the Philippines are all incontention for the third and fourth spots.
The Green Archers currently own the third seed in the ladder with an 8-5 record while the Tamaraws and the Fighting Maroons are tied for fourth with identical 7-6 cards.
De La Salle has the most leverage of all three teams since its next game is against UP and a win by the Green Archers on Wednesday secures them the third spot in the standings.
In the event that the Green Archers win, the Tamaraws have to win in their final game of the eliminations against the Soaring Falcons to ultimately end UP’s season.
And of course the inverse of those things can happen.
La Salle, FEU, and UP can still end up with identical 7-7 records and if that happens the Fighting Maroons will take the third seed by virtue of a superior quotient over the other two and that will leave the Green Archers and the Tamaraws to fight for the no.4 spot.
That’s basically a quick rundown of the team scenarios so here’s a quicker look at the players that starred in the league’s penultimate week.
Bright Akhuetie (University of the Philippines, center)
Bright Akhuetie has been pretty steady in the second round getting those double-doubles by the usual and that consistency paid in a big way for UP in its lone game this Week 9.
The Fighting Maroons were able to get to a 7-6 record, and a tie for the fourth spot, after their 83-69 win over undermanned University of Santo Tomas.
Akhuetie finished with a dominant 25-point, 18-rebound double-double in that outing that saw rookie sensation CJ Cansino fall down to injury.
UP’s win not only extended its life in the Final Four hunt but it also eliminated the Growling Tigers from the race, trimming the semifinal contenders to just five teams.
Kenneth Tuffin (Far Eastern University, small forward)
FEU had a similar case to UP’s in Week 9 of the tournament that it needed a win to stay on course for a Final Four spot especially with the two teams sharing the same record.
The Tamaraws eventually got out of Week 9 with a 7-6 record and stayed in their path for the semifinals and one of the reasons why is versatile forward Kenneth Tuffin.
FEU’s junior forward was crucial in its 79-74 win over National University and it was a game that needed a little bit of fortitude in the end-game.
The Tamaraws cruised to a 44-28 lead at the end of the first half only to allow the Bulldogs to trim the lead to eight, 69-61, after the third quarter.
That was when Tuffin got to work when he gave the Tamaraws a 78-65 lead midway through the fourth with a fastbreak dunk.
Tuffin eventually finished with 15 points and five boards.
Thirdy Ravena (Ateneo de Manila University, forward)
Ateneo ran into some big time trouble when it had not legitimate center to handle the fort in the first half of its game against De La Salle.
William Navarro, a lanky 6-foot-5 power forward, was slotted in as the team’s center who would go up against La Salle’s 6-foot-9 centers in Taane Samuel and Brandon Bates.
There was also the threat of Justine Baltazar and Santi Santillan but Navarro had major help from senior forward Thirdy Ravena.
The Season 80 Finals MVP was a whirling derby not just in support of Navarro in the paint but also as a focal point in offense.
Ravena made a huge block on Samuel in the second quarter, and this was during the absence of Angelo Kouame and Isaac Go, showing that he can patrol the paint against the bigger La Salle centers.
He then, delivered a haymaker of a triple that capped off the Blue Eagles’ 11-2 run in the fourth and a 71-58 lead that effectively knocked the Green Archers out.
Ravena finished with 14 points with 10 rebounds and two blocks against the Green Archers.
John Lloyd Clemente (National University, shooting guard)
National University may have went 0-2 this week but John Lloyd Clemente made sure the league was put on notice.
The rookie guard, who already held a hefty reputation as a high-scoring force, in high school, gave a little preview of his offensive capabilities in the Bulldogs’ 84-77 loss to the Green Archers when he put up 19 points on just 7-of-9 shooting.
Clemente then took the single-game scoring record this season when he put up 38 points, on 14-of-25 shooting, in a 79-74 loss to the Tamaraws.
The 38-point mark Clemente scored is just five shy of the school record that his coach Jeff Napa co-owns.
Jerrick Ahanmisi (Adamson University, shooting guard)
Adamson University went a perfect 2-0 in Week 9 and a large part of that success was the consistency shooting guard Jerrick Ahanmisi put on.
Ahanmisi was in usual self of being a smooth operator from beyond the arc and his 7-of-15 3-point shooting between his two games attest to that.
He also averaged 18 points a game for the Falcons this week, and that’s not too shabby at all.
Arvin Tolentino (Far Eastern University, power forward)
If Tuffin did his work in the end game for the Tamaraws agains the Bulldogs, then Arvin Tolentino was the architect of the early game surge.
Tolentino capped off a blistering 19-4 Tamaraw run for their 40-26 lead late in the second.
In all actuality, Tolentino scored all of his 16 points in the first half while also grabbing six rebounds for the whole game.
Paul Desiderio (University of the Philippines, shooting guard)
There’s no question that Akhuetie has earned the right to become UP’s first option in offense but that doesn’t mean Paul Desiderio is just an ordinary second fiddle.
Desiderio is arguably the best secondary offensive option right now in the UAAP and the Fighting Maroons needed his exploits against UST.
In just three quarters, Desiderio put up 19 points while playing as the support shooter, he went 3-of-8 from deep, for Akhuetie who roamed the middle for the Fighting Maroons.
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