Life as it happens. Time as it passes.

Who Will Save UP?

As the second round of the UAAP commences on Saturday for the UP Fighting Maroons, an all too familiar question is asked: who will step up for UP?

There seems to be no one way find out who. The veterans of the team have yet to prove that they have what it takes to carry the load of the team, get them through the tough task of closing out a game, and secure a win for them. As for the rookies and the sophies, there seems to be no one person that will create the spark in the offense, and get things clicking in all cylinders. And then there’s the question of how the coach will orchestrate his team’s play, especially the upcoming first game against a heavy Ateneo Blue Eagles.

But one thing is for sure–a win is badly needed right now.

The UP Fighting Maroons have a good chance of triggering a winning run in the second round if they start improving from their stats. For the first round, there were only three UP players averaging double digits in points per game. Since his injury, Woody Co dropped to 8.5 ppg, a far cry from his solid performance in games prior to his injury. Alvin Padilla, Mikee Reyes, Carlo Gomez, and Mark Juruena, must improve in their scoring if they want more minutes on the floor to sharpen their performance better. More efficient scorers mean more points for the team.

But scoring is just one part of the entire formula to winning–they will have to be better on the defensive end. The big bane for UP is that they have been the team losing with the most number of margins. twice they’ve been beaten by more than 20. The lowest margin they’ve lost was 4, which was by NU, the game they actually had a lead of 22 going into the third. The monumental collapse in the defense allowed the Bulldogs to rally behind their key scorers and reverse the tide. That game would have been secured in UP’s pockets if only defense was strong enough to hold NU at bay.

UP seems to lack a legitimate point guard. Mikee Reyes isn’t spending more time on the floor, and the ones carrying the ball, like Mark Lopez and Alvin Padilla aren’t natural guards. A good ball handler can help minimize the turnovers of UP, which averages 11 per game among its top players who turn the ball over. The other thing about point guard efficiency is that plays can be carried out effectively, and it will spruce up their efforts to close out games better. Effectively carried out plays can help UP avoid any last minute salvaging to do. The thing about crunchtime for the trailing team is that they will spend more time on the defense than the offense. This pretty much happened for UP during their game against NU. The solution for defense is stronger defense. If they take on any team with a solid defensive mindset, UP can win.

I once asked a former UP Maroons if there is any hope for the team this next round, and the only word he could say is the same that I could only muster– SANA.

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