UAAP 74 FINAL FOUR - UST VERSUS ATENEO



I admit, I’m going to be biased with my choices in this matchup.  

(*cough* UST *cough*)

This is the only time when it’s okay to stick to your alma mater and proclaim on why the royal pontifical university in the Philippines will uproot the 2000’s most dominant squad. Even if the Eagles are dominating the UAAP ranks for almost a decade...

... This is the 400-year of the UST’s foundation.

Viva... wait for it... Santo Tomas!

I remember some years back when my UST Growling Tigers negated FEU’s twice to beat edge no thanks to something Mark Barroca allegedly did. This set up a match against the Ateneo Blue Eagles where the Tigers fought hard to terminate JC Intal’s career without a happy ending.

We remember that series as if it was yesterday.

Unfortunately... Ateneo remembers that match too.

And they want revenge.

Dig?


POINT GUARD:

I am going to side with my school in this matchup. Monfort is an excellent supplementary guy. His brilliance can translate to scoring opportunities for the Eagles. However, Fortuna is the instigator. UST can start a run via a booming triple or a penetration drive or a defensive play. Also Fortuna is the likely person to quell a rally. In this series, the last thing UST Coach Pido Jarencio wants is a Fortuna off-night.  

ATENEO / EMMAN MONFORT
7.1PPG – 4.1RPG – 4.2APG – 1.6SPG
UST / JERIC FORTUNA  
13.6PPG – 4.0RPG – 3.2APG – 1.3SPG

FAVOR: UST


SHOOTING GUARD:

Again this is a battle of scorers. Both schools will expect a scoring outburst from these guys. Jeric Teng has ably stepped up to become the team’s go-to-guy. He started the season hot after he outplayed Bobby Ray Parks. However, I’m going to go with Kiefer here. The other son of a big time PBA player is not your ordinary rookie. In fact, he is the league’s TOP rookie. His game is a lot more mature and he can change his game whenever they need it. Both Teng and Ravena are offense-defense players but given the rosters, it will hurt UST more if Teng can’t provide on his scoring production.

ATENEO / KIEFER RAVENA
13.1PPG – 4.2RPG – 3.1APG – 1.5SPG
UST / JERIC TENG
14.0PPG – 4.4RPG – 2.3APG

FAVOR: ATENEO


SMALL FORWARD:

Kirk Long is going to end his UAAP/TV career with a bang. The fifth year American was great in providing the hustle last year and it wouldn’t shock me if his defense and orchestrations will prevail in this year’s Final Four. He was also part of the Ateneo squad that got beaten up by the Jervy Cruz-Dylan Ababou combo in that fateful final. As for Ferrer, the guy is a rookie. He started out as a ball of fire that eventually fizzled out in the second round. Hopefully he can do enough to help the Tigers in their bid to upset.

ATENEO / KIRK LONG
8.3PPG – 3.1RPG – 3.1APG
UST / KEVIN FERRER
7.6PPG – 5.4RPG – 1.3APG

FAVOR: ATENEO


POWER FORWARD:

I am torn in this matchup. While Salva is making sure he is still a go-to-guy despite the presence of Ravena and Slaughter, I have to favor Camus here. I’ve been blogging that as early as last year, Camus has shown signs that he is PBA ready. Unlike Salva, Camus just needs the hound the ball and incite a wonderful defensive display to make himself relevant. His offense may be down (which is a plus for Salva) but Ateneo will have it hard if Camus gets his way in the low block.

ATENEO / NICO SALVA
12.8PPG – 6.0RPG – 1.8APG
UST / CHRIS CAMUS
6.9PPG – 7.6RPG – 1.5APG – 1.1SPG – 1.5BPG

FAVOR: ATENEO


CENTER:

Karim Abdul is a human quarry machine. He feeds of the strengths of others so that he can easily humiliate them when his foes realize that their efforts are for naught. Greg Slaughter though is not those guys. Slaughter, just like Jason Ballesteros, has the unenviable task of guarding Marcus Douthit and Asi Taulava in practice. Slaughter is also a masterpiece of the great Ramon Fernandez. Abdul might be awesome but he needs to get wary of Slaughter.

ATENEO / GREG SLAUGHTER
13.3PPG – 9.4RPG – 1.4APG – 1.9BPG
UST / KARIM ABDUL
12.1PPG – 11.5RPG – 1.4APG – 1.0SPG – 1.5BPG

FAVOR: ATENEO


SIXTH MAN:

I think this is where both squads will have it bad. Justin Chua was displaced by the entry of Slaughter and he’ll need to do well in order to make Ateneo’s bench relevant. Tasked to also provide bench support are Juami Tiongson, Bacon Austria, Luis Gonzaga, and Frank Golla. For the Tigers, the opportunity that happened when Ryan Buenafe failed to get the call this season was cancelled out following the injuries to Clark Bautista and Edu Aytona. Melo Afuang may or may not play in the Final Four match so the Tigers need solid production from Paolo Pe and Kim Lo.

ATENEO / JUSTIN CHUA
4.8PPG – 3.5RPG
UST / MELO AFUANG
6.6PPG – 4.6RPG

FAVOR: ATENEO


VERDICT:

I am a UST guy all the way but in order for UST to win, they need to contain Salva, Monfort, Long, and the rest of the players not named Ravena or Slaughter. Ravena and Slaughter should have the same production as Teng and Abdul but the Tigers need solid support from Fortuna, Ferrer, and the rest of the other guys. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Eagles have a solid backcourt as well as a deeper bench. 

Ateneo is not a patsy school. Ateneo was 13-1 in the eliminations and with their mindset right now, the last thing they want to have following thirteen straight wins is three straight losses. 

Despite the 2-0 edge the Eagles have over the Tigers in the first round, I believe the final four is a different type of ballgame.

VIVA SANTO TOMAS!

GAME OVER!

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