MANILA, Philippines – Before delving into deeper numbers, there is only one magic number that is the most important of all for both the UP Fighting Maroons and the UST Growling Tigers.
At this point in the UAAP Season 81, UST needs their losses to stay at 7 and get their wins to the same amount. One more loss would immediately eliminate them from contention.
However, off all opponents, the 6-6 Maroons are standing in their way, who also need to get to 7 wins to clinch at least a playoff for the Final Four with 6-6 FEU just close by.
It’s a can’t-lose situation for both teams, so a lot of X-factors will surely come into play when the Maroons and the Tigers clash at 4 pm on Saturday, November 10 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Paul Desiderio had his share of struggles too, including a 10-point outing in a 73-89 first-round loss against FEU. But he has since bounced back, most notably with a career-high 31-point, 7-triple eruption in a 95-82 victory, also against the Tamaraws.
Being third options on offense, both veterans are still heavily counted on to provide support for their respective main guys. So when they catch fire, their chances of winning improve dramatically.
Overall, fans can expect an explosion of scoring from both teams regardless of who goes off. UST allows the second-most points in the league at 80.3 while UP allows the third-most at 77.9. UST also leads the league with a blitzing 79.28 pace while UP is fourth at 78.81.
However, there’s a clear disparity from both sides in terms of efficiency. Largely due to leading MVP candidate Bright Akhuetie, the Maroons are shooting a league-best 44.4% from the field while the guard-heavy Tigers are the worst at just a 34.5% clip.
Meanwhile, largely thanks to league assist leader Juan Gomez de Liaño, UP is also first in team dimes with 19.9 dishes a game. UST, despite being led by guards like Marvin Lee and super rookie CJ Cansino, are only sixth with 13.9 assists a night.
However, the one thing UST has over UP is free throw efficiency. The Tigers lead the pack with an impressive 73.7% clip from the line, mostly because Lee hasn’t even missed a single attempt in 36 tries. Meanwhile, the Maroons are collectively struggling at just 58.2%, 6% less than seventh-place FEU.
Both teams have clear-cut strengths and weaknesses over the top. It’s up to them to utilize each one according to their favor. – Rappler.com