Looking at assists, team play this UAAP season

MANILA, Philippines - In a conversation with Yeng Guiao a long time ago, the veteran coach told me that when he gets the stat sheet, the first thing he looks at are the assists. 
 
"That is how you know you play well as a team," emphasized Guiao.

 
Following the UP-UST match that saw the Growling Tigers formalize their entry into the Final Four, I not only checked out the cumulative assists but also the bench play of all the teams in the UAAP.
 
And here's how it goes:
 
Ateneo is leading the way with 16 dishes per game.
 

 
For a team that is unfairly perceived as a Kiefer Ravena-centric squad this goes to show that the Blue Eagles can pass the rock. Ravena leads the wait staff with 5.1 assists while Jerie Pingoy is second with 3.0. Von Pessumal, Adrian Wong, and Matt Nieto also look for the open man.
 
Then if you go to the point production of the starting units and the reserves, you will find out that the most balanced ones are 
 
Ateneo - 41.9 for the starters and 29.5 for the bench
NU - 41.3 for the starters and 23.2 for the bench
FEU - 38.4 for the starters and 36.5 for the bench.
 
The Tamaraws have more balanced scoring and that is why they are harder to stop.
 
UP Plight
The UP Fighting Maroons went down to the UST Growling Tigers 83-76. At 3-7, the Maroons are clinging to hope and the fate of other teams for their Final Four lives. What started out as a promising season - and they did announce their Final Four intentions - is now back to that familiar old script of frustration.
 
The score the fewest points with 63.5 an outing.
 
Breaking that down further, UP is second in the UAAP in perimeter points with 29.8 and 22.2 in the paint of which they are also last.
 
As a result of their preference to jack it up outside, they have attempted the fewest number of free throws with 184.
 
Word is they are frustrated with the slow development of Cheick Kone that has hurt their inside play. Maybe. Maybe not. But for years, the composition of the team has been a bunch of stretch fours and fives. 
 
If you saw Adamson's Papi Sarr during the summer he wasn't even that good. he sat most of the time. But Adamson coach Mike Fermin said that they really worked long and hard with Sarr during the time between the end of the summer leagues and the start of the UAAP.
 
During the UAAP Season Opening presscon, Fermin even said that all he wanted from Sarr was to rebound and block shots because he knows his locals can score. Yet Sarr is literally getting better. 
 
During Jean Mbe's residency year with NU, he couldn't even dribble the ball when he took his eyes off it! Yes, I saw that and that is not hearsay as I was at a few of their early practices. And I saw then coach Manny Dandan patiently work with Mbe, step-by-step, dribble-by-dribble. When he debuted with the Bulldogs, he was nearly named league MVP.
 
With all due respect to UP, I don't know how they trained or what they planed for Kone. Yes, he is raw but he has potential.
 
A little patience won't hurt.
 
However, you know you're in trouble when your best post player is Paul Desiderio. And teams have wised up to that tactic of him posting up.
 
I think that their biggest problem is their lack of team play.
 
After 10 matches, they only had 99 assists. The squad with the other fewest number of passes was NU with 119. 
 
During their opening day win over UE - the Maroons finished with six assists! They did better in their second straight win, a huge one, over La Salle with 14 dimes but in their next assignment, against UST, they fell back to six.
 
I know before game day they are ensconced in a hotel to help with their bonding and focus. Right now, they have four matches left. Their margin for error is low. For them to realize their Final Four dreams, they have to make a stand now. In their way are Ateneo, NU, La Salle, and UE, all who are gunning for their own berths as well.

 

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