August 16, 2009

Top 10: The peloton

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If you follow the UAAP and the NCAA in a non-fanboyish way, you can observe that the top teams are slowly pulling away from the middle of the pack, and that formulating a "Top 10" that includes both leagues is getting tougher, especially for the lower three-fifths. Not to mention the numerous upsets (and almost-upsets) from the bottom teams to the middle-of-the-pack teams.

The peloton although constant, can have their positions shift continuously. The key is for the teams at the peloton to stage a breakaway and catch up with the leaders in front. Being bunched up with all those teams complicate matters can bring a rather successful season a sad end (ask the Stags last year).
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#1 San Sebastian Stags
The last time the Stags swept the first round, they won the title. That was in 1997, where the Red Lions ALMOST ended their title drought. With Jimbo Aquino shooting the lights out, Pamboy Raymundo fouling like there's no tomorrow, and Calvin Abueva making the NCAA big men not named Sudan Daniel look like sissies leading the charge, the Atom Bomb will probably have the best season for a rookie coach in all of sport.

#2 Ateneo Blue Eagles
Ateneo carved out wins from legitimate contenders UE and La Salle (Lasallians who are still playing the underdog game, please read Tony Atayde's column instead), and a particularly convincing one against La Salle if I may add (Lasallians who are still delusional, please read Tony Atayde's column instead). The looming matchup with the FEU Tamaraws at the end of the second round will probably decide which team will be #1, unless we'd go by additional playoff games, or if UP wants to screw up Atenean dreams once again.

#3 San Beda Red Lions
Question: Who's better: Sam Ekwe or Sudan Daniel? Sam Beda or Sudan Beda? Does it matter? By the rate this is going, the Red Lions will steamroll their way into the second round, until their meetings with Letran, JRU and Baste. JRU in fact still has an ace up their sleeve with their other Cameroonian import still lingering in the shadows.

#4 FEU Tamaraws
Jude Turcuatco said it the best: Andy Barroca is the best point guard in the Philippines today. No one even in the PBA even comes a yard close to Andy Barroca's hawtness. I'm sure the fangirls will agree wholeheartedly.

#5 Arellano Chiefs
The best-performing NCAA guest team merits a #5 rank for winning twice this week, against Mapua and AUF. Plus their win against Letran earlier in the first round, they were ranked higher than the Letranites due to the tiebreaker.

#6 UE Red Warriors
After dropping a close one against Ateneo, the Red Warriors made sure they won't be Adamson's next victim with a late-game charge that placed them solo third. The question now is if they can beat FEU to boost their hopes of a twice to beat advantage in the semifinals.

#7 Letran Knights
The Knights almost prevented a first round sweep, if not for a splendid Stags defense that forced Kevin Alas a jack-knife shot that rattled in and out of the rim as time expired, but with Rey Guevarra playing like he's in the PBA already, can RJ Jazul and the rest of the team find a gameplan to beat the top 4 in the NCAA, and more importantly, to better their ranking for the upcoming playoffs?

#8 Adamson Soaring Falcons
Leo Austria must be having sleepless nights by now. Although the Falcons had demonstrated that they can hang though with the big guys, they only managed to win one game in the first round. And despite finally scoring one against La Salle in their first game of the second round, they seem to lose their touch with another close loss against the Warriors. But then, the better question might be, can the Falcons learn from all of this heartbreak and apply this to their next games, and probably carry enough momentum for their Season 73 campaign?

#9 UP Fighting Maroons
State U returns to the top 10 with an escape of a win against fellow cellar-dweller NU Bulldogs. Coach Aboy Castro still has to instill his boys a winning discipline, but it seems that only Woody Co is the only guy stepping up.

#10 Perpetual Help Altas
It's the first time for the Perps to barge into the top ten, thanks to their win against the EAC Generals. After everyone thought the season is all but over with the injury of Raffy Ynion, he came back, and rookie Chris Elopre became the second coming of Franz Dysam for the boys from Las Pinas. Perps can still salvage a Final Four berth, provided they beat either Arellano, CSB or Letran (or the top three if they can do it), and they beat a majority of the teams below them.

Bubbling under:
La Salle Green Archers: For the first time in the Franz Pumaren era, the Archers are in a 3-game losing skid. Is it just due to scheduling (aka by chance) or there is really something wrong with DLSU? Their UP game might reveal some answers, but not all of it.
JRU Heavy Bombers: Ariel Vanguardia has a big problem. He doesn't have a legit starting PG. It's like Mark Cagoco is the Stephon Marbury of the Philippines. Too bad we don't have a Cagoco-cam to watch his daily antics.
UST Growling Tigers: The Tigers seem to run out of gas at the end game. If coach Pido Jarencio doesn't remedy this, and with five legitimate teams in contention for the four semifinal berths, the Tigers would wound up short for the second consecutive year; and that doesn't bode well with the Dominican priests.

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