NCAA 92 Round 2 Team-by-Team Questionnaire

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 17, 2016 06:58 PM
NCAA 92 Round 2 Team-by-Team Questionnaire
THE ANSWER.

With the second round of the NCAA 92 Men’s Basketball Tournament coming sooner than later, the clock is ticking for all 10 squads to figure out the answers to these questions:

SAN BEDA Red Lions (9-1)

Where is Javee Mocon?

With San Beda pacing the league, it seems like the legendary triumvirate of Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer, and Art Dela Cruz didn’t even leave. Donald Tankoua has taken on Adeogun’s role as the end-to-end anchor while the tandem of Dan Sara and Radge Tongco have filled the playmaking void left behind by Amer. They even got a newfound offensive dynamo in Davon Potts who leads them in scoring in only his first year.

Still, the all-around effort frequently put forth by Dela Cruz remains missing. The culprit? His replacement, Javee Mocon, although already averaging 8.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals, still hasn’t come close to that level of consistent and efficient all-around production.

Perhaps, however, the third-year forward doesn’t even have to with the Red Lions already dominating the league – offensively, at least. Their 88.3 per game is almost three points more than second-running Arellano’s 85.7 while their average pace of 93 is far, far away from Arellano’s second-best mark of 87.

Nonetheless, Mocon has long been groomed to be the man in Mendiola. And when he finally does take on that role, San Beda can’t get even stronger than they already are, right?

ARELLANO Chiefs (8-2)

Why hasn’t Jiovani Jalalon had any triple-double yet?

In Scottie Thompson graduation year in the NCAA, his title as best playmaker was passed on to Jiovani Jalalon. Showing he wanted more, however, the former also challenged the latter as “Mr. Triple-Double.”

Last season, Arellano’s court general tallied a total of three triple-doubles. Thus far this year, he has laid an egg in that regard.

Don’t get us wrong , Jalalon’s stat sheet-stuffing averages of 19.2 points, 7.8 assists, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists are as all-around as they come. Still, after he and Thompson and even Art Dela Cruz spoiled us with all those triple-doubles a year ago, we’re still waiting for the first triple-double in this season.

And to get it, we would like to request his partner-in-crime Kent Salado – norming 13 points, 2.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 steals – to let Jalalon drive the bus all by himself, if only for just for a game. Also, we would like to ask Zach Nicholls (32.9 percent shooting), Bryle Meca (36.6 percent shooting), Donald Gumaru (24 percent shooting), and Michael Canete (29.1 percent shooting) to make their shots to make Jalalon’s assists happen as well.

PERPETUAL Altas (8-2)

How can Jimwell Gican and Nic Omorogbe continue pushing the right buttons?

No triple-double machine Scottie Thompson, no legendary coach Aric del Rosario, and yet Perpetual find themselves among the top three team.

Bright Akhuetie has shone, well, bright with per game counts of 17.1 points, 12 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.9 blocks, but versatile forward Gab Dagangon has been no slouch either with 14 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Without much fanfare, the Cagayan de Oro native has actually been the Altas’ most consistent player all while leading the team into staying in the playoff mix.

They’ve already hit their peak, right? Oh how wrong you are if you think that. The Altas have done all of this with Akhuetie’s fellow Nigerian Prince Eze only norming 6.2 points and 6.4 rebounds, with AJ Coronel just recently returned to full health, and with long-range bomber GJ Ylagan only seeing action in two games.

Bottom line, Perpetual is yet to hit their peak.

MAPUA Cardinals (6-3)

Will Allwell Oraeme as the lone pillar in the paint be enough?

Aside from the top three teams, Mapua have beaten everybody in the tournament.

Doubling down on their recipe for success during their breakthrough campaign last season, Allwell Oraeme has taken care of the fort and the Cardinals have surrounded him with even more perimeter players. The reigning MVP is averaging 16.5 points, 18.6 rebounds, 2.9 steals, and 2.8 blocks while Exe Biteng, Andoy Estrella, CJ Isit, and Darrel Menina have been his steady backup.

Still, the same problems haunt Mapua with Oraeme their lone difference-maker on defense and on rebounds. Leaning on three-guard lineups, they give up much in terms of size and their Nigerian tower could only act as deterrent for so long.

The Cardinals rank sixth in opponents’ points average (74.7) and when they get a defensive stop, it’s still Oraeme who cleans up the glass. There is a steep drop off from their center’s team-best board numbers to second-running Joseph Eriobu’s 4.7 per game.

The good news is, the reigning MVP is 19-years-young and still has all the energy in the world. Here’s to hoping that doesn’t run out too soon.

LETRAN Knights (5-4)

Where is the cavalry for lead Knight Rey Nambatac?

Everybody expected the defending champions to compete even though they lack firepower, but nobody expected them to be this competitive. Yes, Letran is only 5-4, but they remain the toughest foes to take a triumph from.

Much of that is thanks to Rey Nambatac who has reminded just about everybody that he once was a scoring machine. Norming 22.7 points to go along with 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.7 steals, not only has he allowed the Knights to quickly move on from the departed Aldin Ayo, Mark Cruz, and Kevin Racal, he has also thrust himself onto the forefront of MVP discussions.

However, the new lead Knight is yet to receive consistent help from his teammates. Bong Quinto, JP Calvo, Jom Sollano, and even Mcjour Luib, have had their moments, but no one has completely claimed the place as Nambatac’s wingman.

Their fourth-best defense will always keep them in games, but Letran needs to jumpstart more production from their starting five and bench – both ranked sixth in the league – if they want to keep their title just a little bit longer.

LPU Pirates (4-5)

How can Topex Robinson’s crew keep surprising?

Bar none, LPU is the league’s most surprising unit – giving the top teams a scare and even pulling off a huge upset of defending champion Letran.

Harry Nzeusseu has proven to be just the man in the middle they need with top-level production of 19.1 points, 17.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks per game. Definitely, however, he hasn’t been alone and has been helped out by fellow unlikely heroes Jesper Ayaay and Ian Alban.

Giving Topex Robinson’s young crew even more hope is the fact that Wilson Baltazar and Shaq Alanes, a couple of high scorers, are bound to improve on their shooting clips of 34.3 and 30.3 percent, respectively. That is not even counting on the bonus they will be getting from the return from injuries of Joseph Gabayni and Jebb Bulawan.

Seems like there are only calm waters ahead for these Pirates.

JRU Heavy Bombers (4-5)

Is the upset of San Beda the turning point of the tournament for them?

JRU is, by far, the most confounding team in the league. They stand at 4-5, a middle of the road record, but are the only squad to fell league-leading San Beda.

Staying true to their team identity, Teytey Teodor and Paolo Pontejos have also both been on roller-coaster first rounds. Teodoro is averaging 14.1 points in 36.2 percent shooting, with a 34.2 mark from deep, while Pontejos is norming 11.8 points in 38.9 percent shooting, including a 26.7 clip from distance.

However, the confidence of “The Blast Brothers” seem to be on the upswing after spearheading that upset of the Red Lions. Now, they just need teammates like Jordan dela Paz and Gio Lasquety to join in on the fun and the Heavy Bombers are certain to get off the ground at last.

EAC Generals (3-7)

How possible is the playoffs?

In a far cry from what they have always been since joining the NCAA, EAC are dangerous this season. Why? Because they boast of arguably the best and definitely the toughest frontcourt in the league.

Hamadou Laminou and Sidney Onwubere are both averaging double-doubles and merge for a total of 29.2 points and 23.1 rebounds per game. Just for good measure, Laminou also averages a league-leading four blocks.

Because of their stout stats, the Generals have already matched their record from last year despite the struggles of their backcourt players not named Jorem Morada. Francis Munsayac (8.6 points, 27.3 percent shooting, 16.9 from three) and Igee King (8.4 points, 26.6 percent shooting, 17.1 from three) are yet to turn in good games.

When they finally do, the first five of Laminou, Onwubere, King, Munsayac, and Morada can duke it out with any team in he NCAA. Hopefully for the EAC faithful, it’s really a matter of when and not if.

SAN SEBASTIAN Golden Stags (1-9)

Can Egay Macaraya work his magic just in time for a respectable finish?

Put bluntly, Egay Macaraya's first season back in Recto has been a disaster.

Sophomore studs a season ago, Michael Calisaan and Ryan Costelo have regressed this year.

While Costelo has had a few good outings, Calisaan has experienced nothing but woe. Starting the season not at full health, his confidence was also not at full strength and that showed in his scoring output of just 7.9 in 30 minutes of action per game. He has looked lost in the squad’s new system and has strayed away from his strength, the midrange, to take the fourth-most triple tries in the team at 27 while only making five of them.

The lone bright spot for the Stags has been the emergence of RK Ilagan who has exhibited time and again that he will make many shots simply because he has the courage to take many shots. Now, if only that confidence rubs off on Calisaan…

CSB Blazers (0-10)

Are they headed for a historic season, in all the wrong ways?

We opt not to add even more bad vibes onto CSB’s 0-10 start to the season.

And so, we will just let the stats do the talking.

CSB is last in points per game with 57.3. Second-worst JRU scores 67.9 points per game.
CSB is second-worst in field goal shooting at 34.2 percent.
CSB has left out 72 points after only making 82 of 157 free throws. Their 52 percent shooting from the stripe is last in the league.
CSB is second-worst in assists with 11.3.
CSB’s best player is Christian Fajarito who only averages 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds.
CSB is in real danger of becoming the first team to go through a season without a win.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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