Yay! College basketball season is back! And it restores sports sanity: more people watched the Ateneo-La Salle game (~15,000) vs. the Azkals home game (~12,000). So... is Pinoy basketball really dead?
#1: Ateneo Blue Eagles
This week's result: Defeated DLSU 81-72
The Blue Eagles notch this week's #1 with a defeat over La Salle -- presumably, that is a stronger opponent that any of the yet undefeated teams played against this week. Kiefer Ravena trended worldwide for good reason: he was the first UAAP baller to register 23 points in a half since Dylan Ababou did the feat in 2009. Credit the opponent as Kiefer matched up better against the shorter Archers than the burlier Falcons.
#2: San Sebastian Stags
This week's result: Defeated UPHSD 87-60
Can somebody fill me up on this? Did Topex Robinson had already had contact with the Stags prior to his appointment? While his appointment was really sudden, but not really that surprising since it made sense -- Turo Valenzona functioned sorta like Gerald Ford. Wait, who's Gerald Ford... and Turo Valenzona was their head coach???
#3: UST Growling Tigers
This week's results: Defeated NU 73-72 in OT and UE 70-63
Perhaps everyone knew from the get-go that the Tigers can beat this year's Warriors. But the Bulldogs? Wait, who was the blue chip rookie that landed in Espana? Ah, last year's UAAP Juniors' MVP, that's who! And don't forget Jeric Fortuna's shooting. His turnover stats will surely catch up as the tourney wears on.
#4: San Beda Red Lions
This week's result: Defeated Lyceum 89-69
I could've ranked them higher than Baste, but the 20-point win over the guest team was sorta underwhelming when you compare it to the 27-point beat down by the Stags against the Altas. Then again, the Pirates took the Altas' booty. The real battles for San Beda would be against last year's Final Four teams and Letran: those will prove if they are a contender without a Black dude manning the middle.
#5: Letran Knights
This week's result: Defeated Arellano 88-70
Haven't really paid attention to this game even though I watched it, but it seems that Arellano's defenses were too weak -- they let Letran score 88 points even though they put up a respectable 70.
#6: Adamson Falcons
This week's result: Defeated FEU 78-59
Don't let the final score fool you. FEU was at screaming distance (quite farther than a shouting distance), but after FEU let Adamson pull away for good, the Falcons padded the score thanks to useless fouls from the Tams in a desperate bid to get closer. What went wrong for FEU? Despite Garcia, Romeo and Ramos, well... that's it. They're too shallow this year. Adamson, despite their non-stars, function well as a unit.
#7: CSB Blazers
This week's result: Defeated Mapua 70-67
Ah, the upset of the week. People have been screaming silently about the newly beefed up B-team of Taft, but it seems it is actually bearing fruit right now. Makes you wonder if the 400-strong CSB crowd (with some wearing "LA SALLE" shirts) smelled something that they'd win that one. Altamirano's outside sniping thwarted a Cardinals comeback to notch CSB's first win against a preceding season's Final Four team since... I dunno. Maybe after the time of Caloy Garcia?
#8: UP Fighting Maroons
This week's result: Defeated UE 69-61, defeated by NU 75-66
Hey... NU defeated UP, so why are they ranked higher? As illogical as this sounds, NU was expected to beat UP, UP was expected to beat UE but NU losing to UST was unexpected. Ah what the heck, let's give them this spot before it takes them 2 years to get back here. Nevertheless, it seems that the expectations last year are happening this year, but I dunno how would their supporters feel about that.
#9: JRU Heavy Bombers
This week's result: Defeated EAC 76-60
Njei and that other Black guy whose name I can't remember because I barely saw him play leaving was fatal -- that supposedly gimme game against Arellano was wasted. If they lost out to EAC I could imagine people calling for the Aerial Voyager's head. Their lack of ball handlers -- their perennial problem, if I may add -- seems to be their weakness in beating the less heralded teams this year.
#10: NU Bulldogs
This week's results: Defeated by UST 73-72 in OT, defeated UP 75-66.
Bobby Ray Parks scored 31 points in their win vs. UP. That means he's the first player to reach 30 points in this season. Although he shown tendencies in lebroning in the clutch, he can redeem himself if he leads the 'Dogs to victory in their next game. Against the Eagles.
The Trash Heap:
#11. EAC: Hey chicks and wannabe chicks! Jonas Paguia, the former PBB Teen housemate, is apparently better than that ultimate Survivor dude! The NCAA needs tix! Save the trees!
#12. Lyceum: Are the Pirates "over their quota"? Their game against Arellano would be another "can-win" for them. The others? Not so much.
#13. DLSU: Wait, why are the Archers aren't here? Answer: They lost this week.
#14. FEU: See above.
#15. Arellano: Need to strengthen their defense, particularly against penetrations (Nene Pimentel loves that word) and rampaging big men.
#16. UE: This will be a loooooooong season for the Defense Minister.
#17. Mapua: What went wrong with the Cards? I thought they netted a big man?
#18. UPHSD: See UE, above, replaced "Defense Minister" with "whomever their new coach is".
Player of the Week: Jeric Fortuna (UST) -- I considered several other people, but only Jeric Fortuna had stellar performances on all (if applicable) games this week. Ravena scored a big fat egg on his debut, and Parks also had a "meh" debut. Among the NCAA guys no one was stellar enough: in Baste, both Abueva and Pascual shared scoring duties and in the CSB-Mapua game, the lone competitive NCAA game of the week outside the Lyceum-EAC game, Jan Tan had the game high 15 points: not exactly player of the week material.
Games to see this week:
July 20 @Filoil: SSC-R vs. CSJL -- No NCAA rivalry is truer than this one.
July 21 @Araneta: ADMU vs. NU -- Parks vs. Ravena... and Slaughter.
July 24 @Philsports: UST vs. AdU -- Potential playoffs matchup?
Note: An earlier version said that Kiefer Ravena set a 2-year record when he scored 30 points in the Ateneo-La Salle game. That was wrong -- Ravena tied the record on most points in a half.