Ate­neo tests NU; La Salle vs UST

Tempo - - Sports - By JEROME LAGUNZAD

Games To­day (Smart-Araneta Coli­seum) 2 p.m. — La Salle vs UST 4 p.m. — NU vs Ate­neo

Ros­ter depth and suf­fi­cient fire­power have been the name of the game for streak­ing Ate­neo so far in the Blue Ea­gles’ im­pres­sive start in the UAAP Sea­son 80 bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment.

The same, how­ever, could not be viewed of re­build­ing Na­tional Univer­sity, with the Bull­dogs mainly re­ly­ing on skip­per J-Jay Ale­jan­dro es­pe­cially on the of­fen­sive end.

The Bull­dogs could not af­ford to play such way to­day if they in­tend to stop a two-game bleed­ing in their 4 p.m. en­counter with a Blue Ea­gles side de­ter­mined to inch closer to­wards a sweep of the first round at the Smart-Araneta Coli­seum.

The 6-foot-2 Ale­jan­dro is cer­tainly mak­ing the most of his fifth and fi­nal year un­der­scored by his solid aver- ages of 17.8 points, 6.4 re­bounds, 5.6 as­sists and 1.8 steals per game, putting him­self in the early con­ser­va­tion among top MVP can­di­dates.

As im­pres­sive as Ale­jan­dro is play­ing, NU coach Jamike Jarin ad­mit­ted “it’s a con­cern” since the other Bull­dogs, in­clud­ing Sene­galese cen­ter Issa Gaye and gun­ner Dave Yun, have been strug­gling to play con­sis­tently.

“Like what I said this team is not tal­ented enough to win games so it has to be a col­lec­tive team ef­fort. We need to step up of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively,” he added.

In con­trast, the Blue Ea­gles are get­ting the job done be­hind a fluid of­fen­sive at­tack, with eight play­ers ac­count­ing for at least five points per game, and a suf­fo­cat­ing de­fen­sive blan­ket that al­lows just 73.4 points per game.

“I guess their un­selfish­ness also al­lows each one to step up when the need arises,” ad­mit­ted Ate­neo as­sis­tant coach Sandy Ares­pa­cochaga.

“There’s no jeal­ousy. And that’s ac­tu­ally a big thing for a team, so we’re also lucky with the at­ti­tude of our play­ers. They have no prob­lems with shar­ing the ball and shar­ing the lime­light.”

Mean­while, de­fend­ing cham­pion La Salle, stung the last time out, seeks to bounce back at the ex­pense of strug­gling Univer­sity of Santo To­mas in the 2 p.m. opener.

The Green Archers are aching to re­deem them­selves from a 98-87 loss in­flicted by Univer­sity of the Philip­pines last week and that should give the Growl­ing Tigers, losers of five in a row, more rea­sons to be cau­tious. a

“We have to do more in terms of ex­e­cut­ing our game plan,” stressed La Salle coach Aldin Ayo, aware that the loaded Green Archers have that ten­dency of re­ly­ing on iso­la­tion plays – in­stead of run­ning their of­fen­sive sets – even in cru­cial stretches.

And the co­he­sion that Ayo wants to see from the Green Archers is clearly what the Blue Ea­gles have been flash­ing un­der­lined by their 17 as­sists out­put and an ef­fi­cient 44.3 per­cent shoot­ing clip per game.

(Rio Delu­vio)

BEN Mbala needs to come up with MVP-like num­bers if he wants to help La Salle get back on the win­ning track when it faces UST to­day.

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