UP-UST Game 1: Inconsistency for Maroons; Tigers on a tear
UST's Sherwin Concepcion shoots a jumper.
Philstar.com/Erwin Cagadas
UP-UST Game 1: Inconsistency for Maroons; Tigers on a tear
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - November 11, 2019 - 4:31pm

MANILA, Philippines – Those amazing University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers are one win away from punching their finals ticket following an 89-69 win over the University of the Philippines.

If you root for UP, then this was a most disheartening loss. They were quite a disjointed lot to watch. Too much one-on-one basketball. Maybe that wasn’t the game plan when UST did a number of their leaders.

My take on UP is we are seeing three different faces of the team.

In the summer and the weeks after that, we saw a team play together. Granted they were missing Kobe and Juan, the team played. Yes, I know it is the preseason and things change. But James Spencer is suddenly a non-factor. This kid made the Gilas team and now he isn’t doing anything. Ditto for David Murrell. The Janjan Jaboneta I know has become a way too physical player (I am being kind). If he is being used as a defensive specialist or as an enforcer, then I think… what a waste. He was awesome at Ateneo de Cebu. 

For much of the UAAP season, it was Kobe Paras, Bright Akhuetie and Javi Gomez de Liaño who carried the team. When the three played well, they usually won. 

Now, in UP’s last few games, Javi has somewhat disappeared although his younger brother Juan Gomez de Liaño has picked it up as has Ricci Rivero.

That is all good to have others cover for them. But you’d like to think that some consistency has developed. Instead the game was marked by inefficiency.

Jun Manzo was almost a non-factor. Zero pints but he did add two boards and four assists. Their primary facilitators — Manzo, Juan, and even Kobe — combined for five assists. Their 3-point shooting was off (UST knocked down 11 to the fighting Maroons’ three).

It isn’t over of course. We aren’t writing an obituary for them. They can change the complexion of things.

It is easy to say that UP is a star-studded team while UST isn’t. That isn’t entirely true. Aldin Ayo’s team has some blue chip players in Mark Nonoy, CJ Cansino, Renzo Subido and Dave Ando. Soulemane Chabi Yo was spotted playing for Colegio de San Lorenzo and persuaded to transfer (along with his coach, Bonnie Garcia). Chabi Yo led the Griffins to the UCBL title and was named Best Foreign Player.

Nevertheless, that isn’t meant to disparage their accomplishments. It is merely to point out an imbalanced purview. Granted none of them are usually mentioned in the same sentence as UP’s stars….

UST’s win underscores the talent of this team. They are highly dangerous and one saw that in the Filoil Preseason Cup and in the PBA D-League. They are merely fulfilling expectations by those who saw them there (not the Johnny-come-lately fans). 

They jumped on UP from the get-go and hit a lot of triples and free throws. They passed the ball around befuddling UP. Andthe Growling Tigersplayed great defense and stopped UP’s key players (Paras, Manzo, and Javi). Not only did UST start strong, but they finished the even-numbered quarters also with a flurry of baskets and key stops.  

Now they are in a position to barge into the finals and ruin UP’s aspirations.

However this series ends, this showing by UST is a huge coup for Aldin Ayo. Their renaissance is on.

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