Saturday, December 6, 2008

PCC Final Four: ADMU vs. CSJL/DLSU vs SBC


Letran took the lead early on but Ateneo made their run courtesy of Rabah Al-Hussaini's semi hooks.The size factor really took its toll on the Knights early as a slew of defenders were thrown at Rabah but he was still quite effective. Ryan Buenafe saw action in his first PCC by coming off the bench--- he was rusty and hesitant on both ends of the floor but quicky picked up his rhtyhm as the game went along. Other Eagles namely Baclao, Reyes and to an extent, Austria played their roles to the hilt--- with Letran's pressure defense the pair of guards had to work over time and Baclao did what he did best--- rebounds and defense. Those long arms bothered a lot of shots.

While it looked like the Eagles collapsed on the end part of the game, it was more of Letran being (even) more aggressive on the defensive end that made it a very, very interesting game. With the game tied at 61 apiece, Daa was called for a (ticky tack) foul--- or just plain stupid because he was reaching in all over the place and got called--- that pushed the lead back to three points (He also reacted quite strongly which merited a technical foul--- i thought the refs reacted quite strongly too-- in this game so-oh-close that extra free throw could mean the game...) A few plays later Reyes made his only three in the ballgame which, if i remember correctly stretched the lead to 8 points. If the Knights showed more poise, or if the refs showed a bit more compassion, I do believe that it would be the Eagles trying to make their run at the end game and not the other way around.

But when everyone in San Juan was thinking it was all over (around 3 or 4 minutes left) Letran slowly crept back into the game. Jazul got hot. Even that Poch Juino lookalike (even his game/jumpshot is a copycot of Mr. Juino's) Regin Ranisis made the long shots and eventually, it was a close game.

What surprised me was the fact that Letran made their run without a true point guard. Alas chose to go with the back court of Jazul-Lanete or Jazul-Teczon. It was surprising because the Knights still maintained their pressure on the backcourt and never lost that speed to bother the opposing guards.

Meanwhile, Ateneo was just too composed in the end game. Trailing by a single point, they went to Buenafe, arguably the best slasher in today’s game, who made that falling-fading bank shot which gave the Eagles that lead.

Letran showed good heart, but clearly Ateneo had the tools to win these close games.


The second game had ingredients for a blowout. San Beda had energy, and La Salle looked lost in the scheme of things most of the time. And anyway, after the first game thriller what were the chances of a cardiac game happening in the same day, same venue?

San Juan was in for another treat. After trailing by as many as 17 points, the Green Archers put the boost on in the final quarter and recorded what could be the greatest comeback in the short history of the PCC.

And it was one for the highlights reel. Trailing by one, with 24 seconds and some to go in the game, Pumaren and the Archers decided not to foul and just play good old honest defense--- and it worked. Pressured by the long arms of Barua and active Casio they forced a turnover on Teczon (or was it Lanete?) leading up to a Barua steal-assist to Casio who was all alone for the easy, easy lay-up.

Menor’s mad try at the end was just a bit too quick and too much of an isolation play (but what can you really do with six and change left)… It was in a way, a very apt way for the end of the Lions because they played that way in the final moments of the game.

So the key to the La Salle win? Injuries to both point guards did San Beda in. While La Salle ceased their full court press in the final six minutes, there was no real court general for the Lions at crunch time. Villanueva suffered a sprained ankle at the start of the fourth and Tirona was missed the final minutes with an injury as well. Tirona--- for all the turnovers and ill-advised shots was effective both on offense and defense.

Another point is Lim’s questionable rotation decision at the end.

A) He never put Taganas back in. He practically bullied his way against the likes of Walsham (and of course, the much thinner Maierhofer) in the 3rd and helped with the offensive boards. Him and Jake Pascual was a joy to watch… Ekwe was fine on the defensive end but was trying to do too much on offense. By the time the fourth came (Ekwe and Pascual in) the roles were a bit jumbled and it created confusion on the Lions execution.

B) Lim chose to bench Tirona. As I mentioned, the point guard was a bit too erratic and too excited on his shots. But he did make that one clutch three pointer (ill advised still and was effective in calling the plays… You take the good with the bad and i do think this was about trusting your point guard and Lim did not. (By the time he was looking for a point, the latter was injured)

And finally, i saw how good of a coach Pumaren is. This was a masterful job by Franz--- in-game adjustments and just pacing, knowing and maximizing his players. For three quarters, Casio had a semi-bad outing but in the fourth quarter, Pumaren went to his leader and Casio delivered on some crucial baskets.

Very bad loss for San Beda and I feel bad for San Beda fans at the stands because they were celebrating for pretty much 90 per cent of the ball game. La Salle even had that “we’ll get them next time” faces and was just hanging around. Lesson here? Hang around hang around, eventually you’ll get your breaks. And it happened at the end game for De La Salle.