The Games that Play Us: The Downward Spiral

The NU Bulldogs were just out of reach for the UP Fighting Maroons.
(image by Diana Moraleda/

NU Bulldogs over the UP Fighting Maroons, 65-43

Right now, the UP Fighting Maroons are tied for the worst record in the UAAP. At 2-7, their win-loss standing doesn’t really do justice to how different this Diliman squad is from the humiliation of last season. The Maroons have been fighting more this season, and here and there flashes of promise could be seen.

But they are so few and far between, and this loss to the NU Bulldogs just magnifies how, after their upset of the FEU Tamaraws in the first round, coach Ricky Dandan’s boys are on a mortifying downward spiral.

At this level of competitive basketball, it’s normally a good thing if a team can equal a whole half’s output in just the space of one quarter, but if that output is a measly 13 points, then there’s not much to really feel good about.

UP's halftime routine was probably the lone bright
spot in yesterday's game.
(image by Diana Moraleda/
Looking at the whole game, in fact, there really isn’t anything positive worthy of note if you’re a UP fan. Sure, Paolo Romero led the way for the second straight game, but if you consider he topscored by scoring just 7 points, then, again, there’s not much to go on.

So what happened here? Was NU just so amazing on all fronts? Was UP just plain terrible?

Let’s crunch some numbers.

Some positives for UP: they had more blocks (8-3) and steals (6-3) than NU, and they had less turnovers (15-18). By some miracle, they also had more total attempts at the basket (63-62). So what the hell went wrong (again)? What the hell caused them to get blown out by 22 points?

Let’s look at what UP allowed NU to do: NU grabbed more rebounds (50-34) and had more dimes (15-9). The Maroons also hacked the Bulldogs enough to gift them with 24 free-throw attempts (as opposed to only 7 for UP; funny we don’t hear the conspiracy theorists, right?), and though NU converted only 13 of those, it was still a significant stat. Here’s the ultimate rub, however – NU made 40% of their field goals while the Maroons were successful barely 27% of the time.

Mike Silungan was cold from everywhere against NU.
(image by Diana Moraleda/
So what do these tell us? Two main things – UP has extremely poor shot selection, and the shots they do take, they often don’t make.

This is another classic case of NU just using its inside strength to the fore – be it thru putbacks or drives. That puts them in a better position to score, and it also puts them in a better situation to get fouled, hence more charities. And UP, despite having Alinko Mbah, just couldn’t really compete. Emmanuel Mbe had his way down low with 17 points, 13 rebounds (5 on the offensive glass) and 1 block. Ray Parks also waylaid UP’s defense, slicing and dicing for 22 points, 7 boards, 4 assists and 1 block (maybe the block of the year as he raced for a chase-down rejection on Carlo Gomez).

Emmanuel Mbe proved to be too much for
the Maroons' interior D.
(image by
How about the Maroons? Their four main offensive weapons, Mike Silungan, Mike Gamboa, Jelo Montecastro, and Jett Manuel, combined for 6-for-26 shooting, including 0-for-8 from downtown. They had a total of 16 points and 6 turnovers. Wow. That’s just painful.

So UP, again, shot themselves out of this one even as NU played their normal game – run it down the throat of the defense and hope for the best. The Bulldogs improve to 4-6, just half a game behind DLSU and UST for the fourth spot. Next up for them are the FEU Tamaraws, who are looking for a 3-game winning streak after escaping both UP and Adamson in succession.

And as for the Iskolars ng Bayan? Right now, in all honesty, they are the shabbiest team in the bunch. Yes, SHABBIEST. For the first time in the season, the UE Red Warriors are actually NOT the worst team in the UAAP. And with the Adamson Falcons looking to bounce back on Saturday, the downward spiral is bound to go on.

NU 65 – Parks 22, Mbe 17, Terso 7, Javillonar 6, Khobuntin 4, Alolino 2, Singh 2, Villamor 2, Celda 2, Ignacio 1, Neypes 0, Celiz 0, Labing-isa 0
UP 43 – Romero 7, Maniego 6, Juruena 6, Montecastro 6, Gamboa 5, Mbah 4, Gingerich 3, Silungan 2, Manuel 2, Gomez 2, Wierzba 0, Fortu 0, Wong 0
QS: 17-6, 27-13, 48-26, 65-43

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