Looking at Ateneo's 94-82 win over FEU
Ateneo's Thirdy Ravena goes for the basket in their match against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in the UAAP 80 men's basketball tournament at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Sunday. | Joseph Nocos
MANILA, Philippines — For me, having watched both teams extensively this offseason, my pre-match prediction was the result would go Ateneo’s way. True enough, Ateneo won 94-82.
I didn’t think that FEU would win it because as I said in my pre-season preview, they are a young team lacking in big-game experience (despite the presence of some championship veterans). Their Ateneo counterparts, while young as well, have had big game experience plus major minutes which is more than most FEU veterans can say.
Some Tamaraws racking up major minutes are actually new to the team.
Nevertheless, here are my post-game thoughts.
I was surprised that FEU did not press their momentary advantage.
Chib Ikeh picked up his second foul in three minutes and had to sit out until the third period. Isaac Go was also whistled for a foul. All in the first quarter of play.
What further shocks me is that FEU center Prince Orizu didn’t get to attempt another shot after he scored the match’s opening points. Orizu was subbed out with a minute and change left in the first period with Ateneo leading, 31-21.
Instead, FEU opted to shoot it out in a run and gun game – a mistake because that is Ateneo’s speed.
Come the third period, the Tamaraws made some early head way as they went inside again with Barkley Eboña, Ken Tuffin, and Orizu scoring inside but mysteriously, they stopped. Sure they were getting double teamed but there was progress and hope. FEU attempted 25 free throws to Ateneo’s 15! Prior to this match, Ateneo was second in free throw attempts.
In the loss to La Salle, the Tamaraws scored 54 inside points (DLSU without Ben Mbala finished with 22). They did slightly better than UE, 34-30, from the inside.
Against Ateneo, they scored less, 30-26.
For the second time in three matches, FEU got torched by the small man.
In their season opener, Aljun Melecio scored 29 points (9/22 and 41% field goal shooting). This second game, Anton Asistio – what is it with guys whose first names start with “A” killing them – scored only 16 points but 6-11 from the field good for 55%.
Ateneo is the second best three-point shooting team thus far and I am surprised that they have really fallen in love with the outside shot. In Season 79, Ateneo was ranked fourth in long range shooting hitting 28 percent.
This season? Ateneo is right behind DLSU hitting 33 percent of their triples.
Against Adamson, Ateneo attempted 25 times (28 percent) from beyond the arc. Against UP, the Blue Eagles were 9-25 for 36 percent.
Against the Tams, they attempted 34 treys and landed only 12, good for 35 percent.
Shooting much from the outside meant fewer offensive rebounds. Against Adamson, the Blue Eagles hauled down 29 while the grabbed 18 versus the 12 of UP. This match versus FEU, both squads each had 12 offensive boards.
Be that as it may, for this game, the overall shooting for Ateneo was phenomenal.
Ateneo is the second team to hit better than 50 percent of its shots this season. The other team is UST, which registered 52 percent accuracy from the outside in a losing effort against Adamson. Dubious stat at the very least.
Ateneo, on the other hand, won, while hitting 50 percent from the field.
Up and down that line-up, Tab Baldwin’s team is producing.
This game even if Tyler Tio and Troy Mallillin did not score, they added to the stat sheet with the former grabbing two boards and dishing off three dimes; the latter chalked up one assist.
Eleven of the 13 players sent in scored. That is huge.
And Thirdy Ravena is standing tall. In three matches, he’s the only player for Ateneo have scored in double figures for every game. He had 20 against Adamson, 16 versus UP, and now 18 against FEU, which played their best game of the young season.
Some things to love – the ball screen defense, the switching, the defense, the willingness to pass, and perhaps more than the rest – the intensity. I mentioned there are moments when you can see the focus drift from some players. But the intensity has been constant.
On the other hand, FEU’s squad is still in need of experience.
The holdovers from their title squad of two seasons ago are getting the minutes – Prince Orizu (27 mins), Ron Dennison (21 minutes) and Wendell Comboy (20 minutes). Others who were there for that championship – Richard Escoto (13), Barkley Ebona (12) and Jojo Trinidad (13) – aren’t playing much.
In their place, the young studs are receiving major minutes. Ken Tuffin leads the way with (23) followed by Jasper Parker (18), RJ Ramirez (13), Axel Iñigo (23) and Hubert Cani (12). That’s more than the other guys who have won. Imagine if the Holmqvist brothers – especially Steve – were still around.
Make no mistake, there is talent here. I do not believe one moment that we have seen the best of Jasper Parker, RJ Ramirez and Ken Tuffin. As they grow more comfortable playing alongside one another, they’ll improve.
Good show by former Blue Eagles Arvin Tolentino and Cani.
It was fun to see two teams that run the dribble drive offense go at each other.
With each trying to clog the lane, both teams saw a lot of that drive and kick; hence, the shootout.