Analysis: San Beda's adjustments that led to Letran’s woes

Migs Bustos on Oct 28, 2015 07:41 PM
Analysis: San Beda's adjustments that led to Letran’s woes
San Beda turned the tables in Game Two by answering to Letran's call.

We are back to square one and it will take six grueling rounds to finish off this classic heavyweight duel. Letran set the tone in Game One by adding much pressure on the five-time defending champions. San Beda has turned the tables in Game Two by answering to the Knights’ call. No matter what happens in Game Three, basketball fans all over the world can agree that these warriors have let it all out in the court.

So much investment has been given: players’ countless hours in practice and doing extra work, coaches’ endless hours of scouting and teaching and managers’ never ending financial support. But most of all, it has been the support of passionate students and die-hard alumni that have been evident all throughout these years. And this year, all the hard work, time and effort will boil down to Thursday’s game.

Let’s take a look on how the Red Lions has turned the tables, at the same time the setbacks of the Knights that could have avoided them to a third game.

San Beda’s Adjustments

Controlled the game from the get-go

Art De La Cruz and Baser Amer started out with so much energy right from the tip-off. They were responsible for taking the lead early and not letting the Knights to get much edge to get a hot start. They were blazing. For every shot and assist that Art took, his intense reactions were priceless as if every possession mattered. Baser on the other hand, played the role of a player-coach inside the court. His leadership exuded all throughout the game. And even though he was on the bench, he stood up most of the time just to guide his younger teammates.

Ola imposed his will early, focused on his composure down low as he had six points and eight rebounds to end the half.

Let’s give credit where it’s due. The big three has always been in talks in relation to San Beda’s success. But we must not forget the two other pieces who complete the puzzle: Ryusei Koga and Roldan Sara.

Dan has been steady all season long in the absence of Baser, filling in the scoring and experience for his team; Ryusei does not contribute much on the stat sheets, but his veteran smarts prove to us that he should be worthy inside finishing the game. They have been steady all throughout Tuesday’s game.

Back in the Groove

The Red Lions have finally landed back home and dominated the inside once again. 58% of their scoring came from inside the paint, showing their size dominance against their opponents. The top leading scorers were Adeogun, Mocon and De La Cruz with 14, 13 and 12, respectively. And they shot efficiently at that too, combining for 16 out of 24 field goals, missing only a combined eight shots. This also helped the Lions to get their lead up to as much as 13 points.


Magic Bunot: Javee Mocon

As the Knights were trailing three points at halftime, the “Ant Man” Mark Cruz carried his team to a mini run to get their first lead of the game. The Red Lions needed answers and Javee Mocon responded to the call. The impact player of the game exploded for four straight baskets which gave them again a five point lead. If it were not for his instant offense, the Knights would have pounced on their momentum and might have grabbed a big lead to close out the third. As AC Soberano proved to be the x-factor in the first game, no one can doubt that Mocon was the key why the Lions won this match.


Letran’s woes

San Beda knew what to do

This was a different Letran that we saw in the first game who jumped on with a quick lead and controlled most of the game.  The Red Lions were the ones who dictated the tempo early which the Knights had a hard time recovering. Their first lead was the go ahead basket by Mark Cruz in the third, which Mocon & Co. answered back quickly. Their biggest lead was just at two points at the start of the fourth canto, where Sara and Sorela responded to the call by knocking down six straight points. It was a big challenge for the Knights to take control of the game and close it out, credit that to the defensive adjustments by Coach Jamike and the eagerness of the team for it not to be their last game. Though Mark Cruz had 21 and Luib and Sollano had 10 apiece, it was not enough to pull them through. 28% FG shooting won’t take you to the Promised Land.

Missing Pieces

Kevin Racal’s 28 points, a career high in Game One was big for them, it was bigger because Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac also contributed offensively. In fact, they combined for 63 of their total output of 94 points.

However, the second game of the series was the total opposite, K-Racs was just held down to nine, “Stingrey” Nambatac was held scoreless and Mark Cruz was the only one who carried the load. Coach Allan Gregorio said it best: in order for Letran to win, they have to have a sustained, consistent scoring from the big three. Sadly, it was really an off night for Racal and Nambatac.

Free Throws and Execution

If there’s a time to win games, the fourth quarter should be a “now or never” type of situation. Because of a mixture of San Beda’s defense and Letran’s miserable offense, the Knights were just held down to nine points in the fourth as their last basket came during the last three minutes. Shots were not falling even though they had good looks. They also had two crucial turnovers in clutch time which could have helped them to inch closer.

Free throws also played a big factor in the end game. It was a double whammy for Rey Nambatac, who went zero for six in BOTH field goal shooting and free throw shooting. Moreover, his free throws were (very) crucial down the stretch. He, together with Luib and Calvo, missed big free throws that could have changed the outcome. Indeed, the breaks of the game did not go their way.

Game Three will not be solely a game of wit, skill, and talent. It will also require the answer to the question of “Who has the biggest heart?” Everything has been laid out by both coaches: all the strategies, offensive plays, defensive adjustments, rotations, tendencies, etc. It is now a battle of determination and who will come out on the top of the mountain first. If both teams have still little to give, we are all sure that they will give it all in the floor come Thursday. Arriba or Animo, this has been one of the toughest series to call. Both teams have their own advantages, the odds may seem even and up to the last game, no one is a shoe in for the title.

Dynasty or destiny? We’ll just leave that to the basketball gods to decide their fate.

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