NCAA mid-term Grades: Bottom Feeders

The Arena, San Juan
August 28, 2013
NCAA mid-term Grades: Bottom Feeders
(First of Three Parts)

A total of 44 of 45 first round elimination round games of the 89th NCAA basketball tournament have been accounted for. The only one that hasn’t been completed as of this writing is the duel between Emilio Aguinaldo and Mapua. Regardless, it will not affect the result of the rankings our friendly neighborhood, Madam Auring, not Spiderman, and Sportsmaryosep have collaborated on. We’re starting down there as the sub-title illustrates and snake all the way to the top. And here is No. 10.
Mapua
(1-7, possibly 1-8 or 2-7)

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What went right?

In spite of losing practically more than half of its team from last year and having a new coach in Atoy Co, the players we’re expecting to deliver, delivered. Like Joseph Eriobu and Kenneth Ighalo, who led their team after both averaged more than 12 points a game. Ighalo, for one, saw marked improvement. From a scrappy but no-offense defender, the sleek, slippery Ighalo has metamorphosed into a mid-level scoring machine with a three-point shooting to boot after making 18 of the 53 shots he took from beyond the arc for a decent 34-percent clip without much sacrificing his defense after norming about 10 rebounds and a steal a game with some solid perimeter defending and weakside blocking on the side. He has become part facilitator too with a career-high average of 2.5 assists. Mapua should also be happy with the emergence of big man Mark Brana, who has averaged 11.14 points and 6.14 caroms that should mirror the future of this team.

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What went wrong?
A lot. Let’s start with defense where they’re the league worst after allowing their opponents to score an average of 80.4 points. They also turn the ball over a lot norming an atrocious 20.88 a game. Their offense is much to be desired also as they’re only sixth in average points scored with 68.4. And oh, Mapua is also shooting bricks from the free throw line as if they’re trying to construct a new building for futility in their side in Intramuros. They have missed a whopping 73 of the 166 attempts there for a paltry, Shaquille O’Neal-like 56-percent clip. And to think they have a coach who is one of the top shooters the country has ever produced. Co, for the uninitiated, had a free throw percentage of 78.6.
What Madam Auring says?
When I was walking in Muralla street, I saw Co walking out of their team practice with a tall, wiry African, probably 6-7 or 6-8 and perhaps taller, walking behind him. That player may play next year or the season after. I mean, Co and the Cardinals are probably rolling with the punches this year and hoping for a splash next season or in years to come. Deep in my heart, I want them to win. But I will not be surprised if they just used the rest of their games to gain some experience they hope to use for the future.
Grade: D
Emilio Aguinaldo
(3-5, possibly 4-5 or 3-6)

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What went right?
They’ve won three games with some of their top players underachieving. They’ve been doing it with toughness and experience having been one of the league’s most intact team. Jack Arquero, a 23-year-old rookie transferee from Ilocos Sur, has emerged as the Generals third best player having averaged close to 10 points a game on an efficient 53-percent clip. Noube Happi and Jan Jamon remains the team’s first two scoring options but have actually played below expectations. It also helped that Elyzar Paguia has emerged as one of the league’s elite shotblocker with an impressive average of 2.5 blocks a game. I mean, he’s 6-3, 6-4 perhaps and probably jumps as high as Beau Belga. He’s making it up with impeccable timing, which I think should be essential if EAC wants to make a final push to the Final Four.
What went wrong?
I’m lonely with Happi not meeting expectations and Jamon not playing as sweet as years past. Happi is better than his 14.38 points and 12.38 rebounds a game averages because of his uncanny mix of size, athleticism, speed and agility. He’s surprisingly missing shots he normally makes and had a measly 43-percent clip. Jamon too is on a funk as his outside shots are not going in including an atrocious 9-of-37 (24 percent) from the three-point area. Their struggles epitomized EAC’s up-and-down season.

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What Madam Auring says?
Noube, please make us Happi. You too Jamon. Or else feast on you and grate you with cheese. Just what we keep on saying, where Happi and Jamon goes, EAC follows.
Grade: C+
Lyceum
(3-6)

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What went right?
Issah Aziz Mbomiko, not Shane Ko, has been the anchor on which the Pirates have clung to whatever hopes left in them in crashing into the Final Four. Mbomiko, an undersized big among tha massive collection of African players roaming in collegiate basketball right now, has led his team not only scoring (11.25 points) but also in defense where he is the team’s pillar. Boni Tan also has a deep of collection of players who are capable of exploding any time. In fact, 10 of his players have at least once scored in the double digits. Remember Triso Lesmoras’ career-high 28-point effort? How about Wilson Baltazar’s 19-point effort he laced with five booming triples in a 60-55 upset win over San Sebastian just recently? Ever heard of Joemari Lacastesantos?
What went wrong?
Ko. And I’m not just talking about the word knockout. Ko, who should have been Lyceum’s main man this season, has produced more bad games than good ones. There were games that the Pirates also couldn’t finish. They’re also playing too physical for their own good as suspensions hit several of their players. Dexter Zamora, Joseph Ambohot and Lesmoras to name a few. Because of lack of size, they lived and died from beyond the arc.

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What Madam Auring says?
It will get better in the second round. If Ko could summon his 23-points self in a gigantic 70-66 shocker over dynastic champion San Beda last June 24, or eons ago, then Lyceum could make a legitimate run at the post-season. Temper will also play key. Defend tough and play rough, but not too much. And oh, where has Andrei Mendoza gone?
Grade: B-
To be continued….

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of NCAA.org.ph)

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