UAAP Weekly wRap – Ateneo’s Ikeh, La Salle show off ahead of anticipated clash
MANILA, Philippines – After one month of blazing action in Season 80 of the UAAP, we are now only a few days away from the highly-anticipated showdown between legendary rivals Ateneo Blue Eagles and DLSU Green Archers. En route to their Sunday showdown, both teams continued to show off top-tier performances in Week 4 of the UAAP, as evidenced by our weekly top picks.
Player of the Week (Week 4 - Sept. 27-Oct.1)
Stud – Chibueze Ikeh, Ateneo Blue Eagles
This Week’s Performance – 2 games (2 wins), 12.5 points, 11 rebounds (4.5 offensive), 1.5 blocks, 10/13 field goals (77%), 2/2 3PT (100%)
In a team chock-full of scorers like Thirdy Ravena, Anton Asistio and Matt Nieto, it was soft-spoken big man Chibueze Ikeh who had the loudest on-court performance with a near-perfect 77% shooting clip and a literally perfect 2/2 from downtown. Averaging 12.5 points in 2 games (7 vs UST and a team-high 18 vs NU) may not be a lot, but going into this season, Ikeh had always been known as a defensive stalwart and not a post threat with a touch from outside.
Although he wouldn’t admit it even if we asked him, his recent offensive outburst is a warning issued to the league, especially to his upcoming matchup who has also caught a bout of Steph Curry fever: Ben Mbala. Ikeh is ready to fight fire with fire, with express approval from Assistant Coach Sandy Arespacochaga: “We weren’t surprised. Coach [Tab Baldwin] has been giving him the green light. We see him shooting every day in practice and he’s been knocking it down.”
Coming in as a runner-up is none other than Ben Mbala, who had 29 points, 9 boards and 3 blocks in the 29-point blowout against UST, which we’ll also get to later. Although he failed to knock down any of his 4 threes, recording a season-low in points in the process, it doesn’t take away anything from the fact that this was already his season-low. Look for both him and Ikeh to go at it on Sunday and watch the sparks fly.
Special props should also be given to NU’s JayJay Alejandro, who in 3 games has been quietly averaging 24 points, 5 rebounds and 3.7 assists on 30/51 shooting (59%). Unfortunately, the Bulldogs in the same period have lost 3 straight. Obviously, it’s not their captain’s fault at all. Others badly need to step up.
Dud – Paul Desiderio, UP Fighting Maroons
This Week’s Performance – 1 game (loss), 9 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 4/12 FG (33%), 1/5 3PT (20%), 26 minutes
One game after scoring 30 points on 6/10 shooting from three en route to an upset win over champion DLSU, King Maroon Paul Desiderio already found himself struggling the very next game. With his former University of the Visayas team captain Ron Dennison clamping him down all game long, Desiderio fizzled into a non-factor in UP’s season-low 59-point outing against the FEU Tamaraws.
The 3-2 Maroons badly need their captain’s mojo back if they want to grab solo 4th place against the similarly 3-2 Adamson Soaring Falcons tomorrow afternoon.
Team of the Week
Stud – De La Salle Green Archers (#2, 4-1)
This Week’s Performance – 1 win vs UST, 115 points, season-high 29-point margin of victory on a season-high 52.33% team shooting percentage
UST saw this one coming, and they could do nothing to stop it. The now 0-6 Growling Tigers bore the full wrath of the scorned champions who surprisingly lost to UP by 11, 98-87. With a rekindled fire to dominate, the Archers never let the Tigers get a lead and led themselves by as many as 31 points.
Despite a season-low from cornerstone Ben Mbala, who still had 29 and 9 anyway, Coach Aldin Ayo incorporated more players and ball movement in the game, resulting in 26 team assists. They did all this without Aljun Melecio, who was still confined in the hospital as of tip-off.
The 4-1 Archers will have one more pit stop against 0-5 UE tomorrow before they finally face Ateneo on Sunday for an expected all-out war to cap off the first round.
Dud – UP Fighting Maroons (#5, 3-2)
This Week’s Performance – 1 loss vs FEU, 59 points, 19-point loss, 23/73 team FGs (31.5%)
From beating the champs to setting the season’s league-low in team points, UP’s game against FEU is plainly bad. Had Diego Dario not scored 8 points in garbage time, the loss would’ve looked a lot uglier.
Overconfidence? Ron Dennison? Whatever the reason for their collapse may be, it must not show in tomorrow’s battle for solo 4th place against Adamson, unless they want to find themselves from outside the Final Four looking in again. Granted, they have vastly improved under Coach Bo Perasol, but it’s not yet enough.
“Nowhere to go but up” doesn’t mean stopping in the middle. – Rappler.com