The upset pulled off by the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers over the UST Growling Tigers yesterday showed us why the Collegiate Champions League (CCL) is still and just ONE OF THOSE TOURNAMENTS…
I took the time out to watch the whole game last night and to see for myself how are things coming along with the league.
Having been crowned the UAAP Champs and seeded 3rd in the tournament, UST came into the game the obvious favorite against the 14th seed JRU Heavy Bombers, a wildcard entry from the NCAA.
If you watched the game, you can immediately see the evident disparity in skills, basketball fundamentals, and team system. On all points — advantage UST. Add to this a huge plus factor — homecourt advantage.
The cagers from Espana were more polished, had sound basketball fundamentals, and frequently ran and stuck to offensive patterns (save for the occasional brilliant displays of one-on-one basketball courtesy of the talented Duncil). The Golden Boys also conveyed a sense of quiet confidence, each a portrait of composure.
On the other hand, the players from Shaw Boulevard were a picture of pure bravado, a mix of athletic individuals who seemed to give nary a thought on how to properly play the game. No discernible plays were observed. Ill-advised shots were a staple. They were living up to their monickers…. a crew focused on just bombing away. It was like watching a team competing in an Inter-Barangay tournament.
Now, you’d be asking yourself… What the heck happened to the UAAP Champs!?????!
Here’s my take… yes, just a single factor as to why UST gave the game away to JRU…
UST DIDN’T TAKE THE GAME SERIOUSLY. PERIOD.
I mentioned that the Golden Boys had a sense of quiet confidence in them. Yep. And they extended this aura to that dreadful sense of overconfidence.
After that miraculous run to the crown in the UAAP, it might have gotten into their heads.
You could see Japs Cuan showboating by dribbling like a duck the length of the court.
You could see Pido Jarencio sharing a laugh with ALL his players just before the start of the 3rd canto.
You would have noticed Pido Jarencio’s move to “counter” JRU’s rough-housing of his players (which may have been a psy-war tactic of Coach Ariel Vanguardia of JRU by instructing his players to play the Bad Boy brand of play, made famous by the Detroit Pistons of the late 80’s, to throw off the Tigers) by making a platoon substitution with a probable instruction to do a tit-for-tat. This move by Coach Jarencio only escalated the tension which was already simmering at the start of the ballgame. The sad consequence of this was the eventual ejection of Dizon and Gile, who both stormed into the court after Duncil was vehemently tagged by Marvin Hayes of JRU. Jervy Cruz lost his cool as well as he “immaturely” retaliated with obvious second motions, the culminating act of which was a proverbial elbow to Feniquito of JRU that earned Cruz a disqualification foul.
Okay. I would be remiss if I don’t give some form of credit to the victors…
JRU played tougher, scrappier, and hungrier basketball. It was evident that they were out to make an upset. Failing to make waves in the NCAA, they were out to make a name for themselves in the CCL. To make up for their lack of offensive polish, the Heavy Bombers relied on a solid, almost suffocating, interior defense, forcing UST to go almost always to the perimeter. With Jervy Cruz out, UST lost interior presence offensively and defensively.
Here’s a telling fact… So tremendous was the Heavy Bombers’ defensive application in the 2nd half that the Growling Tigers went 0-for-20 in FG in the final quarter! UST ONLY scored 2 points via Ababou’s charity pair in the dying minutes of the game!
BUT, most telling of all… after the game, you could see the UST players taking pictures with their student fans… smiling and obliging… oblivious to what just happened to them. Judging from the way they acted before, during, and after the game, the UST Growling Tigers, the newly crowned UAAP Champions, didn’t take the CCL seriously.
To the Growling Tigers, the CCL is just one of those tournaments….