After 37 days of gruelling competition, eight teams survived the cut to make it to the win-or-go-home rounds of the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup.
Five UAAP and three NCAA squads are left standing out of the 18-team pool that started out the annual summer competition and they will duke it out in the quarterfinals that tips off on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Match #3 San Beda Red Lions (6-1) vs. Arellano Chiefs (5-2) at 3 p.m.
Both teams boast of some of the most explosive guards in the tournament. San Beda features Dan Sara and dead-eye shooter AC Soberano, who is hitting 64% of his triples (29-48), while the Chiefs have the Kent Salado and the exciting Jiovani Jalalon, who, despite missing two games due to national team duty, posted the sixth best overall individual statistics in the tournament.
The Red Lions are locked and loaded for bear. They’ve got a ton of scorers up and down the bench. They’ve got height. They can hurt you in so many ways. And this tournament, they have played on a fifth gear with a stifling press and a pace that punishes opponents with poor ball carriers. Aside from their speed and pace, what makes them dangerous is their work ethic. They are constantly in your face.
Plus, they like to attack inside leaving the perimeter open for snipers like Soberano, Sara, Ranbil Tongco, Joe Presbitero, Robert Bolick Jr., JV Mocon, or even forward William Navarro.
Against La Salle, they dictated the pace for the first 26 minutes of the game before the Green Archers overtook them and held off those last ditch rallies.
If the Arellano Chiefs want to take down San Beda, much less compete in the NCAA against this perennial power, they
must out-work the Red Lions. And that is saying a lot. Now Arellano owns the slickest backcourt in the country today with Jiovani Jalalon, Kent Michael Salado, and Donald Gumaru. They lead the Chiefs in scoring in that order as well. But that too reveals their weakness.
The Chiefs have a deep and talented roster but there’s an imbalance in the production. Their lack of production in the frontline hurts them, especially when battling the likes of San Beda and Perpetual Help.
I always thought that Dioncee Holts is only the center by default because of his height. He is actually a small forward or shooting guard forced to play big. Allen Enriquez is a three playing the four. Their best inside threat is Lervin Flores who is their best two way player. Julius Cadavis and Adam Gupilan can help but need to provide better quality minutes to earn the trust of their coach.
That weakness inside was their undoing versus NU.
Brian Meca and Kraniel Villoria can pick up the slack coming off the bench. Between the two, it is Meca who can operate inside as he knows how to position himself for a putback or being the recipient of a drop pass.
If the Chiefs are as good defensively as they are offensively, they will go far not only in the Premier Cup but also the NCAAs.
Match 4: De La Salle Green Archers (7-0) vs. Far Eastern University Tamaraws (4-3) at 5 p.m.
The Green Archers have been unbeaten in any league in the past three months. They know they are good and that is dangerous.
DLSU boasts of the best one-two punch in the league with behind statistical leader Jeron Teng, who is dropping 22.7 points per game, and the bull-strong Ben Mbala at the slot, who turns in 21.3 points and a league-best 15.4 rebounds a game. But it is Mbala who makes this team go. He is their X-factor. And he’ll finish this tournament as its Most Valuable Player for what he brings to the table.
Mbala's teammates can take shots from the outside knowing that he can haul down the offensive board (DLSU is the best rebounding team in the league with 48.1 a match — three more boards than the next best squad that is San Beda). Their man can slip by them but they know they have a rim protector in the lane. Opponents get worried about Mbala that it allows Abu Tratter and Jayboy Gob to get putbacks and freebies. And Prince Rivero has yet to get untracked. You also have to pick your poison — double team Mbala or get bombed from the perimeter by Jolo Go, Kib Montalbo, Andrei Caracut, or Aljun Melecio?
Are the Green Archers unbeatable? The Tamaraws would do well to watch the first half of La Salle’s match with Mapua and Letran. Against Mapua, Mbala had a very tough time against Cardinals center Allwell Oraeme. Only when Oraeme got injured and thrown out did La Salle gain a hold on the game. The Knights’ smallball worked for one hald before they crumbled in the second half.
FEU has been led by Monbert Arong, Steve Holmqvist, and Richard Escoto. And that’s telling because they’ll need Prince Orizu (5.6 points and 9.6 rebounds), Kevin Eboña, and Ken Holmqvist to hold their own inside the paint against Mbala. If they play all Filipino, FEU can match up well. So right now the question is stopping Mbala.
(Read Part 1 here.)
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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.