Ninoy Aquino Stadium
July 31, 2013
UAAP Mid-season Grades
(First of a two-part series)
After 28 games, or halfway through Season 76 of the UAAP, the league takes on a fitting respite to give way for the much-awaited 27th FIBA-Asia Championship from Aug. 1 to 11 at the MOA Arena where the country’s hope of making it to the FIBA Worlds next year will hinge.
And though Far Eastern U surprised everyone including Sportsmaryosep with its sensational seven-game sweep of the first of two-round elimination, we’re somehow correct, and we will echo University of the East coach Boycie Zamar’s broken-record-like statement, when we adhered to the pre-season belief that “anyone can beat anyone.” He didn’t mention though that the statement does not include, sorry to say, University of the Philippines. The Maroons, of course, were Marooned and the Fighting taken away from them by their horns after getting swept by everyone.
But generally, we’re right on the money. After FEU, the next six teams are in Final Four contention with equal ability to go all the way. Three games behind the Tams, Santo Tomas, UE and National U are logjammed at second to fourth while La Salle, Ateneo and Adamson are closely behind at fifth to seventh spots. And then DOWN there, not UP there, are the Maroons.
And because of it, we will start with…
At 0-7, the Maroons will need not just a miracle or two, but a series of miracles and bad luck falling on the rest of the league for them to sweep their last seven games and a chance to make the Final Four for the first time in…forget about it. You and I probably lost count after counting the defeats the last three seasons. How many? 32 in the last 35 games? I’m no good in substraction, nor in Mathematics in general, but these numbers are bad. There are some bright spots for UP. Like Sam Marata and Raul Soyud and some pretty nice role players. UP though needed to get it together for it end an embarrassing drought. But I have a bad feeling it will be hard. And I sympathize with long-suffering fans of UP but I have a belief that hope is what makes them loyal to the end. To the very least, UP has its cheer dance team, which is STILL 7-0 in halftime shows thus far. That levels the equation a bit.
If you’re with the Falcons, you’re probably on the brink of a heart attack. That is because Adamson has alternated with wins with losses. The Marcelino-based dribblers have rode the roller-coaster the whole of the first round winning their first and losing the second and repeating the pattern until their seventh game when they lost a 71-74 thriller to the Falcons that sent Leo Austria’s charges miserably at No. 5 alongside La Salle and Ateneo. And also, with the exception of its 12-point win over UP and a 12-point defeat to Ateneo, Adamson’s other games went down to the wire. Which, in essence, clearly illustrates how close they came to landing in the magic four. Austria and the Falcons, who are anchored on do-it-all Jericho Cruz–currently the ninth best player in the league right now–and a bulldozer in Ingrid Sewa, have seven games to right the ship.
After a tumultuous start, the Eagles have bounced back by winning three of their last four assignments including a masterful 61-57 triumph over the Tigers to improve to 3-4 before the league took a break. Of course, the Loyola-based dribblers limped to an atrocious start because of an ailing roster headed by Kiefer Ravena, who had to endure the severest of all ankle sprains and sit out a couple of games that when he did play, suited up minimally. It’s a good sign that Ravena is back although he’s not yet 100 percent. If he does get all his energy and form back, you may call Ravena “The Phenom” no more. And like someone rising from the ashes, he will be the phoenix Ateneo has been expecting to see. And did I mention that athletic Fil-Am rookie Chris Newsome and Ryan Buenafe, the stewards of the captain-less ship during Ravena’s absence, will form the three-headed Eagle that no one has ever saw?
This team is an enigma. The Archers have some wins they almost lost and some defeats they almost won. La Salle has a pretty balanced roster. They’re talented, young but inexperienced. Yes, they’ve shown flashes of brilliance that made us think they could go all the way and yet they’ve also displayed the darker side of the coin that also made us cringe and say…WTF (pardon my French). As my contention before, where Jeron Teng goes, La Salle follows. True, Teng averaged 14.57 points, 6.71 rebounds, 3.57 assists, a steal and nearly a block a game. Nice, solid all-around stats. But we all know he’s better than that. We understand Jeron that you’re being unselfish and team-oriented. But please, try to be a little selfish sometimes and be like Mike. I was referring to His Airness, Michael Jordan. And oh, please make your free throws because you missed 19 of the 31 shots you took.
To be continued…
What’s next: NU, UE, UST and FEU and Sportsmaryosep’s fearless forecast, Madam Auring style!
(Photos courtesy of Filoil Flying V)
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