Breaking down UST's win over UP

UST's Ed Daquioag and UP's Diego Dario. | Philstar.com/Izzy Toledo

MANILA, Philippines - The showdown for solo first place was everything it was projected to be. It was tight, intense, and down-the-wire, but UST pretty much handled UP for a 67-59 win to stay undefeated in three matches. The Fighting Maroons, in the meantime, crashed down to earth (with some concern seeing their next opponent, FEU, rebound from a loss with a 93-75 demolition of La Salle).
 
Let's break down the UP-UST match.
 
First and foremost, I thought that UST took UP out of their comfort zone in their win. Whatever worked for the Fighting Maroons in their first two wins almost all didn't work save for their outside artillery.
 
So if UP shot better than UST, how did they lose?
 
Let's explain "taking them out of their comfort zone."

They took away the post game of players like Paul Desiderio and Jett Manuel
 
I was waiting to see how UP would try and post up Jon Sheriff, Marvin Lee, or Renzo Subido. However, none was forthcoming. Instead they settled mostly for jump shots and only occasionally did they try to drive. 
 
For the Tigers, Ed Daquioag and Kevin Ferrer pretty much did what they always do. And that one-two punch is the best in the league right now (FEU can make the argument that they've got three kings of their own in Mike Tolomia, Mac Belo, and Roger Pogoy but they lost to UST so their in second place) with the duo averaging 42.0 points per game. That consistent scoring has thus far paid dividends for the Growling Tigers.
 
Daquioag scored as many points as Diego Dario and Paul Desiderio did - 27 overall. No one on the other hand countered Kevin Ferrer's 17 markers.
 
In UP's previous two wins, only once did one player log more than 25 minutes and that was Desiderio in their season debut against UE.
 
Against UST, three players logged 25 or more minutes: Jett Manuel, Desiderio, and Diego Dario. While the three are the main source of points for UP, they like to play this uptempo and frenetic style where everyone just goes in and gives everything before they are subbed out for fresh legs. 
 
In a war of attrition against a more experienced UST team, UP's starters fared badly against their Tiger counterparts: 57-12. They scored only four points the first quarter forcing them to go to the bench early.
 
This was UP's first match against a team with a solid center and that caused UP all sorts of trouble. With Karim Abdul playing cleanup and rim protector, it allowed Kevin Ferrer to roam in a Scottie Pippen-like performance on defense. Ferrer helped out in the perimeter and rushed to double down low. That was quite a luxury on defense.
 
Abdul is averaging 31 minutes and 3 fouls a game. In three matches, only Kevin Ferrer got into foul trouble but that was late in their game against FEU. For the most part, that veteran trio has stayed relatively free from foul trouble. The longer they are on the floor the more damage they can inflict.
 
When you prefer to take jump shots you aren't attacking the defense and trying to put them in foul trouble. 
 
When Adamson attacked UST in the second period of their opening match, they limited the Tigers to six points while scoring 20 of their own. The Soaring Falcons placed UST into penalty in the fourth period but the Tigers equalized Adamson's output of 19 points in the payoff period to eke out a win.
 
Against FEU, only once did UST get into penalty - the second quarter - but it was with time dwindling so the Tamaraws weren't able to capitalize. Against UP, the Tigers got into penalty in the fourth period but so did the Fighting Maroons an that negated whatever disadvantage Dela Cruz's lads had as UST attempted 20 free throws to the mere 10 of UP.  
 
UP got really hurt by its turnovers
 
Before I talk about the TOs, let it be known that in all three of UP's matches, they have been outrebounded on the offensive glass but this is the first time they lost.
 
In terms of second chance points, they weren't hurt by UE although La Salle pummelled them in that department, 17-5.
 
So what hurt them?
 
It was in turnover points where they got killed. UST scored a huge 20 turnover points while UP only managed 8 points from their own defense. 
 
UST had an answer for every run of UP
 
See Daquioag and Ferrer stepping up when UST needed points.
 
UP played more individual basketball as opposed to team basketball. The Fighting Maroons only chalked up six assists; the same number as UST. However, the Growling Tigers since even the time of Pido Jarencio have been a team that likes to overpower you with individual brilliance.
 
They really aren't the sort of team that will wow you with its superb passing. This isn't to say they cannot pass the rock. Sure they do. Again, they are a team that through the years tries to overwhelm with individual talent as they have possessed arguably some of the best position players.
 
I thought UP failed to capitalize on Kone's presence. This was the first game where Cheick Kone was very active if not effective. Kone scored six points, grabbed 7 rebounds and had 3 shot blocks. This was his best production so far. He could have spread defenses and attracted double teams that would have freed up their shooters.
 
There's a lot to learn from this game. Even for the victors. It would be interesting to see what UP does against a team like FEU next Sunday while UST will go up against NU.

 

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