UST, still learning, shoots for 4th win; NU eyes first victory
While University of Santo Tomas tries to perfect a game plan built around the three-point shot, National U hopes to simply get over the hump after three heartbreaking losses.
The Tigers shoot for a fourth win in five games that will keep them nipping at the heels of unbeaten leader Ateneo when it battles the up-and-down Adamson Falcons on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
And coach Aldin Ayo hopes that the players, despite meeting early success in UAAP Season 82’s men’s basketball tournament, will continue buying into a system that seems predicated on the three-pointer.
“We’re still in a learning process,” Ayo said of his Tigers. “We need to keep learning.”
Facing last year’s finalist University of the Philippines, the Bulldogs are eyeing a less rosy goal. NU is looking to finally go over the hump and end a slump that easily could have been a winning streak had it gotten key breaks along the way.
National U had the lead in the last 15 seconds of the game against La Salle, in the final 1.4 seconds against Adamson and in the last 6.5 seconds against UST.
But Kurt Lojera nailed the winning jumper with 14.9 seconds that gave the Archers an 83-82 victory, Lenda Douanga nailed a triple at the buzzer to seal an 84-83 Falcons triumph, and Soulemane Chabi Yo pounced on an early celebration by NU to hit a tying basket with 2.5 seconds remaining that paved the way for the Tigers’ 87-74 win.
NU has played in two overtime matches out of three games thus far this season. In regulation so far this season, opponents have outscored the Bulldogs by just a single point, 227-226, in three games combined. In overtime, NU has been outscored 27-13 in two games, including a 17-4 drubbing at the hands of UST in a match where the Bulldgos celebrated too early after taking the lead in the final 6.5 seconds, allowing UST to pounce on a napping defense to force the extra period.
“You just learn from your mistakes, we were just too overwhelmed with the situation,” said NU coach Jamike Jarin after the loss to the UST.
The Bulldogs hope to rebound against the Maroons when both squads face off at 10:30 a.m., after which UST takes on Adamson. Far Eastern U battles La Salle at 4 p.m.
The Tigers have been feasting from beyond the arc thus far this season, although Ayo says this is the inadvertent reward of his team’s consistent probing for holes in the opponent’s defense.
In three wins this season, UST has a 12-4 edge in three-pointers made per game, outscoring opponents from beyond the arc, 36-12, each time out. In their lone loss, a 71-70 defeat to league-leader Ateneo, the Tigers were outscored with the three-ball, 30-27.
In three wins, UST held opponent to just 17.1-percent three-point shooting. The Blue Eagles made 26.3 percent of their treys against the Tigers.
UST’s penchant for the run-and-gun game, however, seems to have taken its toll on its players, with Ayo worried about his team’s energy going into the Adamson match.
“Against Adamson, our main concern is how to recover physically,” Ayo said after the win over NU. “Chabi [Chabi Yo] played 39 minutes [against NU] and Mark [Nonoy] even had cramps. So our priority is recovery first and then we prepare against Adamson.”
“Adamson has a system in place and no matter how many new players it has, the system is always there,” added Ayo.
The Falcons, however, have had a roller-coaster campaign thus far, beating NU and University of the East and losing to Ateneo and UP. Against UP, the Falcons trailed early, zoomed to a huge lead and then lost the game in the end on free throws by Bright Akhuetie.
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.