Life as it happens. Time as it passes.

What The UP Fighting Maroons Need To Do for a Better Second Round

I’m not a good basketball player. But what I’m good at (or at least I think I’m good at) is taking down notes and listening to analysts give their take on what a team did in a particular game that gave them a win.

So when the UP Fighting Maroons won their first win of the season over UE, I browsed through the internet immediately to check if there were any available clips of their game, or at the very least highlights of that game. My goal was to listen to the conversation between the commentators of the game, take note of their observations, do a statistical note-taking of my own, and come up with my own analysis of that game.

Turns out my observations matched both the comments of Boom Gonzales and Mark Molina, and the performance of players themselves when they pulled off a 63-48 victory. I am putting my observations here, hoping that, if someone out there from the team would notice enough to at least read this one, I as a fan can do a part that I know doing, for my favorite college hoops team to be a better team this second round. This is my way of making up for not being able to regularly watch their games, either in TV or live in the venue.

Again, please read this disclaimer: I am not a good basketball player, and I am not a certified analyst myself. I’m just an avid fan wanting to help the Maroons in whatever way I know I can. So here it goes:

Keep The Strong D

UP prides in having two of the best thieves in the league, Mark Lopez and Alvin Padilla. The Maroons also rank 2nd in the league for points off turnovers. This is just a proof of the time-tested principle–a good defense leads to a good offense. Lopez, Padilla, even Henry Asilum and Mike Silungan are all good in intercepting balls in the passing lanes, proving that they have a good command of their defensive sense. What UP must do now is turn that D up higher than the first half, with all of the teams now on a clutch mode.

Good Ball Rotation and Perimeter Shot Selection

UP is not a big man’s team. That’s why we are dead last in average rebounds per game. Since other teams have a better front court than us, we should focus on strengthening our backcourt with good ball rotation. This is the best way to disrupt the team’s defense and get a better chance of getting into the paint. And even if the paint area becomes congested with the opponent’s bigger men, we have enough shooters who can place themselves in a good position.

Set Silungan Up

Mike Silungan is a shooter. But he becomes better when the bigs and guards set him up for a clear shot. Alinko Mbah must do a better job of rebounding offensively, draw the defense to him, and then kick the ball out to Silungan for the shot. Of course, Mbah can only draw the defense on him if he also becomes an offensive threat inside. For that, he must also work out his under-the-goal stabs.

Trust Asilum

The 16-year old rookie didn’t just find his way into the RP-Youth team for napping. He knows his role well enough, and he also has a good offensive rhythm. If Norman Black was ready to trust Kiefer Ravena, and if Gee Abanilla was ready to trust Jeron Teng, coach Ricky Dandan can also trust his prized recruit to do wonders for the team. Of course, the downside to his 14-point explosion during their winning game against UE is that scouts have him now for a new assignment. So not only must coach Dandan trust Asilum, he must also train Asilum to improve him, especially his playmaking aspect.

Close In on Closing

A lot have been saying UP should have actually won five of the seven games. I believe that. And the problem lies in the closing. UP has shown that they can catch up with leads as high as 20, which is a proof of their fortitude. But making sure that they maintain a hold of their lead until the last minute is something they have yet to show on a regular basis. The team must focus where it matters most–the last 10 minutes of play, the closing moments of a tight game. Here, the key is mental stability. The players must be mentally strong enough not to fold under the pressure of teams wanting to pound on them. They have enough right to say they belong to the elite squads of the league, and they need enough confidence to believe in themselves that they do belong.

Great Expectations

Finally, let me say this. It’s good that we fans stand behind the UP Fighting Maroons win or lose. But I think they should know one thing–we want them to WIN. We EXPECT them to WIN. I heard someone say “OK lang matalo basta maganda yung laro.” Well, in a way that’s encouraging, letting them know that we’re behind them. But I think they know that already. What should be implanted on their minds is that they are fighting to WIN, not just to play. While it is good for them to DO THEIR BEST, I think it’s far better if they GET THE JOB DONE. Sometimes, doing your best is reduced into an excuse for failing to win. That should not be the case. As fans, the due respect we can give to our team is first the belief that they can win, and second, the expectation that they win.

So, what do we expect from our UP Fighting Maroons Men’s Basketball Team? Of course, we expect a better second half. They can do it. We believe they can do it. And we expect them to do it.

UP Fight!

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