IN NUMBERS: Ateneo vs U.P. – 2018 UAAP Finals Game 1
MANILA, Philippines – The UAAP Season 81 Finals series that we've all been waiting for is here as the Ateneo Blue Eagles and University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons go head-to-head in the Battle of Katipunan.
Family feuds, meme wars, high emotions are all erupting to hype up this historic best-of-three Finals series, but only numbers can illustrate reality. (LIVE UPDATES: Ateneo vs U.P. – 2018 UAAP Finals Game 1)
Ateneo holds a massive 27-3 win-loss record over UP in the last 15 years, including the elimination round sweep this season.
And the defending champions aim to add another one in the win column in Game 1 of the title series at 3:30 pm on Saturday, December 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Fighting Maroons last defeated the Tab Baldwin-mentored team in the second round of UAAP Season 79, which snapped a seven-year drought against Ateneo. But since then, the Blue Eagles had regrouped and went on to march into 3 straight UAAP Finals.
UP head coach Bo Perasol knows that numbers hardly give his Maroons a shot against the Blue Eagles.
"No basketball aficionado in his right mind would probably give us a good chance against Ateneo, but then again we would want that, we want the tag that UP doesn’t stand a chance against Ateneo," said Perasol, believing that the "underdog tag" can work to their favor.
Even Doctor Strange – well, at least going by online memes – supports Perasol's claim that UP still has a chance, no matter how slim.
Thirdy Ravena has again proven himself with his end-to-end game. The Ateneo stalwart has been averaging 12.8 points off a 40% clip from the field to go with 6.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists – and, a little trivia – has dunked on each opposing UAAP team this season.
Paul Desiderio, meanwhile, has also been the main man for UP, making tough shots with his "Atin 'To" battlecry. The graduating Maroon has been averaging 14.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
But going against an intact Blue Eagle team in the Finals would mean dealing with an elite brand of defense.
Ateneo's defense has been most superb from beyond the arc and in limiting rebounds, as they allow only 17.3 perimeter points per game and 40.8 boards per contest.
Even if this will make things difficult for the perimeter-shooting Maroons like Desiderio and Juan Gomez de Liaño, UP – being the highest-ranked team in offense – looks to run out the Blue Eagles with their league-high pace of 80.9 possessions per game and grab every opportunity to score in the paint.
The Maroons tally a league-leading average of 19.0 assists over second-running Ateneo's 15.3 assists per game. The Iskos can also get a good chance with an average of 15.5 fastbreak points and 43.5 points in the paint.
But then again, even if numbers can dictate a winner, no one can measure heart and the big boost from the 6th man. – Rappler.com