This is what true basketball fans have been waiting for — the top two teams slugging it out for UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball supremacy.
If you would talk to me during the start of the season, I would say that UST will just finish at the bottom half of the final four. This was plainly because DLSU and NU had a weaker lineup.
Like most of us, we were amazed on how UST had overcome expectations and become a team that looks to be like the “Golden State Warriors” of the UAAP.
The Tigers were bombing three-point shots from every part of that arc and that left Karim Abdul having his way in the paint – defensively and offensively.
In this finals, Kevin Ferrer will be bringing his 17.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a game but it would require another team effort to beat the Tamaraws.
The Tigers didn’t let the Tamaraws score a win during their season match up and it was not Kevin Ferrer who was the best player in those games. Instead, teammates like Ed Daquioag who scored 18 points with 5 rebounds during their first match up and Karim Abdul had monster numbers during their second game with 24 points and 5 rebounds.
UST will have to keep the defense of FEU guessing by distributing the ball evenly and finding the open shot primarily in the three-point arc if they want to win this game. Establish that, then Karim Abdul will eat up the rest of the defense inside.
Defensively, they would have a hard time with the shot making ability of Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia but if they just manage to take one of them out, the game will be striking distance for them.
The Tamaraws having the same core coming in Season 78, were the heavy favorites to win it all after coming up short with the mighty NU Bulldogs during Season 77.
It was even expected that Mac Belo will be at the best form of his career and dominate his way to the MVP title since he will be graduating soon. Instead, the ball has been evenly distributed to his teammates and seeing that FEU has lead in the standings for most of the time during the season, it is hard to see that there is no FEU player in the Top 5 candidates for the MVP award.
However, the guards of FEU must be on their feet while defending against the fast paced UST Tigers. The Tamaraws need to make smart decisions if they will be leaving someone open or defending them.
Offensively, Mac Belo needs to show that he is a top prospect in the PBA and if he just brings in the monster games that he had in season 77 combined with more confident teammates, they can actually seal the win.
Experience is on their side. Enduring a difficult defeat from last year’s finals, the Tamaraws must capitalize on their finals experience to beat the Tigers. FEU needs to start fast and early in both games before UST will be able to shrug off the finals jitters.
FEU may have the upper hand statistically but UST’s two wins over them during the season will surely play in this series. This promises to be an exciting one and we expect both teams to take it to three games.