September 24, 2012

UAAP Season 75 playoffs: La Salle vs FEU preview

It's that time of the year again; no it's not the autumnal equinox, nor the anniversary of Martial Law, nor even the most awaited Gaelic football final. Yes, it's that time when Catholic school students and alumni stop acting like Catholics, and people from non-sectarian schools grin with the fact that they did not waste their life savings only to turn out like Manny Salgado: it's the UAAP Playoffs!

Before the season started, it's a safe bet that most people who follow college hoops have these same five teams seeded to get into the playoffs. Fortunately, there's a logjam at the middle third of the standings, allowing us to have an extra playoff game. Indeed, us fans deserve an additional game to settle things straight and indisputably. The tie for the three teams tied for nos. 3 to 5 was broken as follows:

Team    PD
NU     +16
DLSU    -4
FEU    -12

How they got here: The Tamaraws were the last undefeated team standing at 4-0 until the NU Bulldogs ambushed them in their fifth game. Since then, the Vice Ganda-supported squad had a 5-4 record, losing to Ateneo (twice), La Salle and NU. The second round nullified win against NU was heartbreaking, but was sorta the right decision (they should've played from the overtime period), but what probably was the turning point for FEU was Arvie Bringas bringing out his inner Triple H.

The Green Archers, reeling from a disappointing 2011 campaign, were picked by many to have a bounce-back season, especially after Jeron Teng decided to take his talents to South Harbor (well, sorta that's stretching it). The key part of the season for the Archers was their four-game winning streak where they took down Final Four entrants NU and UST, and the latter half of the second round where had a 3-1 record, falling only against the Bulldogs.

The X-Factor: For FEU, it's Anthony Hargrove. Scoring a measly 2 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in their last game vs. DLSU (and 7 pts.-2 rebs. in the first round vs. the same team), Hargrove has to bring in "A" game against the vaunted DLSU frontline of let's see... Van Opstal, Nolbert Torres and Yutien Andrada.

For DLSU, it's Almond Vosotros. In their second round win vs. the Tams, the former Staglet top scored with 21 points in 46% percent shooting; in their first round loss, he scored eight points and 0% from downtown. If the Taft guys want to meet the Big Bad Blue team, Vosotros has to cash in on his potential.

The Oracle: Fact: If the tie was broken purely on stats, La Salle would've been fourth, and FEU would've been eliminated. Fortunately or unfortunately for the participants, a playoff is needed to break the tie. Everyone wants the current Denver Thuggets-inspired version of FEU to be eliminated. Even those who hate the Gremlins want the greener side of Taft to win. Unless Vice Ganda gives Terrence Romeo a workout he'd never forget, the San Miguel-backed Green Archers would really itch for a rematch with the soon-to-be-no-longer-MVP-backed Ateneo squad.

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