NU vs DLSZ: Goliath draws first blood

Migs Bustos on Feb 24, 2016 01:33 PM
NU vs DLSZ: Goliath draws first blood
RELENT OR PREVENT? A fourth win in four tries against DLSZ will complete NU's second perfect season in the past three years.

The NU Bullpups are just a win away from getting their third championship in school history.

What they displayed during Game One of the Season 78 UAAP Juniors Basketball Finals was a team that is ready to take the crown – no signs of rust, no signs of struggle throughout the 40 minutes.

They shot alright from the field (36%), used their height and size to control the boards (57 total rebounds), and cruised their way until the end of the game (biggest lead: 31). If this is the brand of basketball that they will still show in Game Two, we can only expect new champions on Friday.

Of course, but not before the DLSZ Junior Archers have given everything they have left.

Utter Dominance

If we’re just stating facts, NU’s dominance was personified by Justine Baltazar who had 15 points and 27 rebounds. He also outdid the entire DLSZ in four categories: 9/10 from the free throw line while DLSZ was 5/9, 11 offensive rebounds compared to only five by the Junior Archers, and four blocks to only three by Zobel.

As always, he was the Bullpups’ anchor defensively, making it hard for Zobel to convert even the simplest of shots. With a six-foot seven-inch giant patrolling the paint, the Junior Archer bigs had to settle for midrange jumpers.

MR Romero and Joaquio Mariano had decent looks and made jumpshots, but that was about it – they had little to no effect on the inside. Only 24 points in DLSZ’s total of 58 came from the paint.

MVP Aljun Melecio was also limited, only hitting six out of his 21 attempts, as the Bullpups made sure that he bled for his points. Brent Paraiso, Marco Sario, and Miguel Fortuna were no luckier either.

On offense, Baltazar did his best impression of Hakeem Olajuwon such that when double teams came to swarm him, he knew when to take the shot and when to make a play. When he got fouled, he made his free throws.

Make no mistake, however, it was not a Baltazar show, but a total team effort that caged the Junior Archers. "JLC" John Lloyd Clemente had 16 points and eight rebounds while Karl Penano had 12 points and shot 60% from the field.

Clearly, the Bullpups don’t have to do anything special to get Game Two – they just have to continue what they started and push on the pedal some more. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

If they can put forth one last Goliath-like performance, they won’t have any problem winning it all.

Won’t Go Down without a Fight

Yes, I just flooded you with overwhelming stats which surely made you shake your head. NU really dominated, but still, the fight is not yet over.

The good news for DLSZ is that, as a team, they shot better  than their opponents with a 35% clip from the field while limiting their turnovers to only 12.

As ABS-CBN Sports analyst Marco Benitez mentioned during the coverage, DLSZ is tops in the league in perimeter points, scoring 34 per game. Last Friday, they had 29 points from jumpshots and outperformed NU there.

This is still a good sign because the team knows that it can rely on their jumpshooters – even their big men who have shown some range. This matters because given NU’s length and size, it’s a no-brainer that it will be difficult to score inside.

At the other end, I believe they can D up better when they play zone. With the Bullpups’ refined ball movement, the Junior Archers will have a hard time going man-to-man, but with the zone, they will be able to limit what has been killing them.

It's a pick your poison situation: eliminate the inside threat and contain Baltazar and Clemente or eliminate the effect of the backcourt with their playmaking and shooting.

Like what was also said during the coverage, DLSZ’s offense is also limited to “one and done” possessions – the prime suspect to why they only had two second chance points. For Zobel to limit NU’s offense, they have to limit NU to “one and dones” as well.

Last game, DLSZ had 77 possessions. Since they had a hard time rebounding, they had a hard time speeding up the game as well – preventing them from playing at the pace they want.

If they can at least jack up that number of possessions by 20%, there is a good chance that they may be able to rack up more points. After all, the more possessions a team has, the more chances of scoring, the more chances of points.

All season long, DLSZ has been playing with heart. All they have to do is remember that they are not yet out of the series. All they have to do is to believe that they can still pull through.

 

Nothing is over until the final buzzer sounds. The Bullpups are knocking at the doorstep of history – just one step away from their second perfect season in the past three years.

But the Junior Archers have only sharpened their arrows like never before and are aiming to prevent that door from being opened at all.

Credit to Pong Ducanes of Imperium Technology

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @migsbustos.

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