Numbers tell the story about how interesting the first round of the current season of the UAAP turned out.
With the first 28 preliminary round games of UAAP Season 82 in the books, a handful of storylines have taken shape — with teams jostling for position and a number of players standing out from the pack.
Ateneo has taken the early lead in the team standings, as the defending Seniors champions maintained an unblemished slate through seven games. Last year’s runners-up UP and a vastly-improved UST side are keeping in step with the Blue Eagles, while a three-way logjam at the fourth spot ensued between FEU, De La Salle, and Adamson.
The race for the Mythical Five and Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards also heated up early, with UST’s Soulemane Chabi Yo leading Ateneo’s Angelo Kouame by a small margin in the statistical points leaderboard.
As the eight universities resume their wild chase this weekend for the coveted Final Four slots, FOX Sports Philippines scours through the key statistics from round one:
Ateneo’s stellar defense
Unforgiving. That’s how Ateneo’s half-court defense is in the first round of the men’s tournament. Forcing opponents to commit turnovers, as well as ill-advised shot attempts, has become the trademark of the Ateneo defense this year, anchored on Kouame’s imposing presence in the shaded lane. The Tab Baldwin-mentored squad has limited opposing teams to just 59.71 points per contest, showcasing their discipline both from the perimeter and in the paint. Living up to the “defending without fouling” concept, the Eagles are ranked eighth in terms of fouls committed (15.71 per game) and free throw attempts allowed (95) for the opposition.
Three-point shooting accuracy, free-throw woes for La Salle
There is irony in the shooting percentages of the Green Archers from the free-throw line and the three-point arc. Their percentages are just poles apart: the Taft-based squad is ranked first in three-pointers (31.74%) and dead last when it comes to shooting from the foul line (52.59%). Their woes from the charity stripe bit them hard in their September 25 game against UP, as Andrei Caracut, Justine Baltazar and Jamie Malonzo missed crucial freebies that enabled the Fighting Maroons to escape with a 72-71 win.
Newcomers carry the fight for UST
New faces have towed the Growling Tigers to the top half of the standings, putting the España-based squad in serious contention for a playoff spot. Apart from Chabi Yo, Rhenz Abando, Mark Nonoy, and Sherwin Concepcion have turned in big numbers on offense, mostly from beyond the arc. A high-octane offense – a common denominator for those Aldin Ayo-coached teams – has been on display for these vastly-improved Tigers, currently ranked first in scoring with 81.0 points per contest.
UAAP first-timers shine brightest for their respective teams
Kobe Paras, Rey Suerte, Val Chauca and Jamie Malonzo are just in their first year in the UAAP. Except for Paras, the other three are considered as “one-and-dones” considering their age and the playing year they have exhausted in other leagues. But that did not stop these four young guns from landing the starring role for their respective schools. Each of the four has emerged as their team’s leading scorer through seven games in the eliminations, with Paras, Suerte and Chauca figuring in the tournament’s top ten list.