NCAA mid-term Grades: Middle Earth

Rizal Memorial Coliseum
August 29, 2013
NCAA mid-term Grades: Middle Earth
(Second of Three Parts)

We’re back. After grading what we perceived as the last three teams at least after the first round of elimination of the 89th NCAA basketball tournament, we’ll tackle the next four teams after them. But really, and forgive me Mapua, the difference between the ninth ranked team to the fourth borders from minimal to microscopic. Meaning, anyone can beat anyone from Team No. 4 to Team No. 9. So it don’t be sad if Sportsmaryosep, with help from Madam Auring’s crystal ball, ranked you as No. 9 and don’t celebrate if you’re team is some place higher. Get the drift? Yes? Yes!
And we’ll continue with the team that under-performed the most:
Arellano U (3-6)
What went right?
Prince Caperal. Standing 6-5, playing on his fourth season and ONLY 20 years old, this guy has a promising career ahead of him. Caperal has improved year after year and this Season 89 is no different. After nine games, Caperal has averaged in the viscinity of 10 points, nine rebounds and a block game. The guy has an array of moves and with a soft touch from the outside including the free throw line where he has the highest percentage at 83 among the league’s current big men. And he doesn’t need the ball to manufacture offense. His production would have been more if the wing men that are supposed to produce, produced. And we’ll talk about them next.
What went wrong?

Image
John Pinto and James Forrester. Pinto, whom we heralded in the pre-season as NCAA’s answer to Chris Paul. That’s probably an exaggeration. So we’ll just content ourselves with Wynne Arboleda. I mean, he can penetrate, shoot from the outside, pass like crazy and swiped away balls like “The Snatcher” and a solid wing defender who can rebound. I saw him tally assists in double digits twice in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup last summer. As for Forrester, the hefty, athletic Fil-Canadian, he was a force especially in transition last year as well as in the pre-season. Headed by these two, Arellano U has been hyped to challenge for the crown. But lo and behold, come season time, both surprisingly disappeared. Pinto averaged only nine points, six boards, five assists and 1.5 steals a game, which is far from the numbers he posted in the pre-season. Forrester was worse, norming just 7.71 points after missing 32 of the 42 shots he took from beyond the arc and 19 of the 25 he attempted he inside it while going 12 of 20 from the charity line. And he was suspended for two games for fighting.

Image

What Madam Auring says?
It’s not yet too late for the Chiefs. Pinto has a chance to turn things around in their next games and help himself realize his massive potential while Forrester can use his two-game suspension to think things out and calm his nerves. Now if they do that, we can say Pinto’s door has opened while Arellano may end up finding Forrester after all.
Grade: C+
St. Benilde (3-6)
What went right?

Image
St. Benilde is one of the most enjoyable teams to watch this season with a combination of run-and-gun, lights out shooting, no-nonsense defense and sheer guts. Try to look closer and they have a two-guard juggernaut in Mark Romero and Paolo Taha, who each averaged 15 points and seven rebounds in the first round. Jonathan Grey has gone hot and cold but when feels it, is as dangerous, if not more, as the the two. Jose Saavedra, who is playing as an American but has Filipino lineage, is the Matt Bonner of the NCAA as he can not only mix it up inside and also make long-range bombs. They’ve got a nice system implemented by their nex coach, the seasoned Gabby Velasco. They’re just all fun.
What went wrong?

Image
The only catch is that the Blazers, in spite of their ability razzle dazzle their opponents with their feiry plays, couldn’t finish games. In fact, four of their six losses were one-point decisions. The other two, they lost by just a pair of two-point margins. St. Benilde could have been 9-0 right now if they had hit a free throw from there, swished a triple somewhere or made key stops in the stretch. Or if they had won at least half of those defeats, they would have been somewhere in the magic four right now.
What Madam Auring says?
Even if they dropped another heartbreaker, an 89-90 overtime loss to the Perpetual Help Altas last Aug. 26, the Blazers have started to learn how to win close games as evidenced by their three straight wins before their recent setback. So expect them to be more dangerous and hungrier these last nine games.
Grade: B
San Sebastian (4-5)
What went right?

Image
The emergence of John Ortuoste has kept the Stags in the upper half of the standings as he averaged 16.43 points on an efficient 32-percent from beyond the arc and 50-percent in the two-point area while. And then he got injured and missed a game and wasn’t himself yet on his return. Jaymar Perez is another delight to watch as he normed 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a steal a game. Never mind his five turnovers a game, which happens to be a league worst. Big boy Bradwyn Guinto is a revelation as he came out of nowhere to average 11 points on an impressive 59-percent clip, 11 rebounds and two blocks a game. All these because of Topex Robinson’s four-word mantra: run, run, run, run. And yes, the Stags are the league’s highest scoring team, scoring 76.5 points a game.
What went wrong?

ssc2Defense. The Stags just didn’t (or couldn’t?) have the defense to complement their high-octane offense as they allowed their opponents 79.1 points a game, second only to the league-worst 80 by the Cardinals. They also happened to turn the ball 22 times each game, which is also another league worst. A quarter of those turnovers came from guess who? Perez.
What Madam Auring says?
I haven’t seen Leo De Vera, a Fil-Am who is playing his only season in the NCAA this year, play the way he played before the season started. If you happen to have a glimpse of his game last summer, he can hit those threes, dribble penetrate and make the medium range jumpers. This season, he managed only to post numbers below the 10-point plateau. Perhaps he has focused on doing the Andre Iguodala stats like rebounds (7.25), assists (2.25), steals (1.25) and blocks (1.38). Now if he could only start to assert himself in offense, now that would be FUN.
Grade: B
Jose Rizal (5-4)
What went right?

Image
Having no superstars is sometimes a big plus. Coming into the season with 10 rookies, four sophomores and a three-year veteran. But they have exceeded expectations, made the magic four from the start and have clung into it going into the final half of the eliminations. The troika of John Pontejos, Michael Mabulac and Philip Paniamogan have averaged a combined 40 points, or about two-thirds of Jose Rizal’s output each game. They’re still a press-all-the-way team with some loss of concentration here and there. All these combined, the Bombers are up there.
What went wrong?

Image
Lack of a go-to-guy has played a key factor in all four of the Bombers’ defeats. Despite their averages, Pontejos, Mabulac and Paniamogan are not yet in the level of a John Wilson, a Nate Matute or a John Lopez.
Grade: B+
Next are the league’s Big Three: Letran, San Beda and Perpetual Help.

Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of Jan Dizon of ncaa.org.ph)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s