Looks Like It's ADMU Again This Year

I can’t emphasize enough how deep a hole FEU has dug themselves in that 49-72 whipping they got from ADMU last Saturday. At the mid to latter part of the first quarter all the way into the second, they played with that deer – in – the – headlights look, looking all they could like a Juniors team. That sort of thing happens occasionally, but good teams tough it out and rely on their execution to bring on their own game. Thing is, ADMU didn’t even look like they were trying. FEU completely brought it on themselves, suddenly disappearing even if ADMU wasn’t doing anything special.

liveblogging the uaap gameAs a result ADMU was handed a game they didn’t even have to work hard to get. They naturally pounced onto the hapless Tamaraws just as a (forgive my corny analogy here), just as an Eagle would on an injured mouse. A mouse that injured itself. What was ADMU expected to do? Give them a chance? Course not. By mid 2nd quarter ADMU was executing what to me are the the three steps of a dominating team: 1. Defensive rebound, 2. Outlet pass to running guard and finally 3., Layup after layup after layup all inside 5 seconds, followed by screams of ‘we da best!’ and a lot of chest – beating.

So What Is FEU To Do?

Hell if I know. I’m not familiar enough with Coach Capacio’s style or their player’s personas. What I do know is, for the love of God, THEY MUST EXECUTE. Any team anywhere in the world at any level needs to have a plan, believe in it with their whole being, and stick to it. Coach Capacio has surely laid out what they’ve needed to do since the start of the season.

The problem with having particularly dominating players like MVP guard Garcia and forward Bringas is that people around them tend to do two things: A. When pressured, forego their play and pass it to them and B. Stand around and watch. It may score points at the start and work against weaker teams, and may even be impressive to look at given their individual skills, but the smarter coached teams will wise up to you and start either double – teaming the stars or forcing the other Tamaraws to take shots.

There’s nothing wrong with that, except that the role players have to produce once the ball gets to them. I think the pro role players have it better, being older and wiser, they can handle the pressure. But college kids? No. They just haven’t had time to grow a heart big enough yet to take big shots in big games. It just doesn’t work that way, which is why it’s more important than ever for Capacio to force the concept of team play into them.

Time and time again since the invention of the shot clock, team play has been the mantra of winning teams. FEU, due partly to their brilliant MVP, does not play like a champion team.

What Does ADMU Need To Do?

I’ve read sportswriters bewail the fact that ‘there is no single go to guy’ on ADMU’s team. They use the fact that in ADMU’s previous wins, either Salamat, Monfort, Long or someone else would step up, never the same guy. I will flatly categorize that line of thinking as flat – out STUPID using the same reasons why I think FEU isn’t playing like a proper team. Unless you’re welling dark sunglasses in a fog at night, it’s obviously clear that having any one of several players as offensive options is a brilliant way to run a team. It’s as if Manny Pacquiao grew an extra set of three arms to go along with his two. His opponents would never know where the next punch would be coming from.

To explain, let me discuss what really motivates a team.

Each and every team has complicated internal dynamics. All teams automatically revolve around an ‘alpha dog’ player that influences the team’s direction almost if not more than their Coach. Often, there isn’t just one alpha dog, you have several and as a result you have players grumbling under their breath, resenting the alpha dog’s position and resulting privileges. Challenges to this top position are often and constant, and there are bound to be hurt egos, hidden agendas and disguised frustrations and emotions. Along the way there’s a hell of a lot of moaning, groaning, fighting and whining, and with the constant presence of the press, relatives, wives and girlfriends, managers and hangers on, etc., everything easily gets blown out of proportion.

I’ve always believed dealing with this dynamic takes up at least 80% of a Coach’s job. He has to make sure egos aren’t bruised, issues are dealt with, all in the context of the fact that these are all still young kids and as such are unable to make decisions yet for themselves and can easily be damaged.

So in a game situation, any given player won’t have to worry about taking an open shot. If he’s a role player, he’ll know it’s within the scope allowed him by his Coach and teammates. If he’s the alpha-dog, he’ll know his teammates won’t resent him. In other words, all the egos, all the issues and heartaches and frustrations are all ironed out. Each player is free to play the game of basketball, free from all the internal team issues.

So you see, a Coach’s job deals with far more than just X and Os. In fact, that’s the easy part. Getting individuals to appreciate their role within that complicated dynamic requires ninja level inter personal management skills that I doubt even the best Universities in the world can teach you.

The final result? A Team That Allows Individual Players To Play Their Best.

Watching ADMU play, you ask yourself: Is Salamat going for a three? Or maybe Long on the other side? Maybe Buenafe will drive? Oh no, it’s an Austria jumper! (Where’d he come from?)!

And that’s what makes a winning team. Teams that have players that make you scream incredulously, ‘where’d he come from?’! Teams that, despite enormous defensive pressure and the weight of their fans and alumni on their shoulders, still manage to produce point after point – because they always have an option. To us mostly passive watchers of the game, it’s always surprising, but to teams who have players that know and love their roles, there’s nothing to it.

That’s why I’m calling it ADMU all the way. FEU can obviously pull a miracle out of their butts, but I doubt it. ADMU looks far too polished, and in contrast, FEU far too scattered.The smart money goes to an Eagle repeat.

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