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Fighting not enough for UP

By Josiah Albelda Posted Aug 8th 2013

Despite the addition of Joseph Marata, the UP Fighting Maroons find themselves winless after the first round of action in the UAAP Men's Srs. Basketball Tournament.

Losing seemingly never ends in this part of Quezon City.

University of the Philippines has lost seven straight games to start their Season 76 campaign, as the Fighting Maroons groped for form against the league's more talented teams.

Since Ricky Dandan assumed the head coaching position, the Maroon and Green have won just thrice in 35 games --- a 3-32 record through three years that will never be the envy of any of the other seven UAAP schools.

UP has gone from bad to worse to worst to whatever you want to call it this season, and, if the league employs a relegation system, then the Fighting Maroons would fully deserve getting sent down to an imaginary Division II.

Fighting is back

Dandan stressed before the season that if there's one thing he can scream about, it is the fact that "the fighting is back in the Maroons."

That proved to be the case right in their first game, when returning point guard Mikee Reyes "fought" with Dandan, eventually resulting to the former's dismissal (or departure, whichever side you are on) from the team he worked so hard to get back into.

For the uninitiated, Reyes has missed the past two seasons due to nagging shoulder injuries and would definitely not put to waste all the hard work he showered into his recovery because of just one game.

But Reyes lost his cool after getting benched when the Maroons were making a run against Adamson University. The next day, he was gone.

Inefficient offense

Without Reyes in tow and with Henry Asilum still rounding out into health, UP was left with no one good enough to orchestrate their offense. Numbers show it.

The Maroons were dead-last in points scored at 65.4 per game, with their attack usually devolving into isolations or hurried (and ill-advised) shots.

Sam Marata is at the forefront of that, bringing the Diliman crew a reincarnation of trigger-happy Mike Silungan. Marata averaged almost 17 shots per game and made just a little over five of them for an underwhelming 31.4% percent for someone who attempted almost 1/4 of the entire team's shots.

It's true that the former UPIS standout paced the squad with 14.3 points per game, but Marata epitomized the Maroons' inefficient offense.

UP ranked eighth in field-goal percentage with a paltry 34.5% connection clip and also was eighth in assists with only 11 dimes to show per game.

Lackluster defense

With lumbering big man Raul Soyud and reed-thin Chris Ball anchoring the paint, the Maroons were abused by opponents in the shaded area, giving up a league-worst 39.1 points in the paint.

With their defensive rotations showing a mess, UP also allowed foes to shoot 41.2% from the field -- a mark that would be second-best in the league.

The Maroons also managed to nab just 2.1 steals per outing (while giving away 5.0) even as they have failed to show any semblance of transition defense by giving up 12.9 fastbreak points per game.


To be fair, UP is a young, inexperienced team made up of a lot of rookies and still-developing players so we don't actually expect them to come out of the gates and slay giant after giant.

But three years on, the Maroons have not shown any real progress even as other teams they used to spend the cellar with like University of the East and National University have come out of their shells and figured in contention.

The second round looks bleak for these Iskolars ng Bayan and a winless season would not be surprising. With teams revving up in the chase for the all-important Final Four seats, expect UP to be sideswiped with loss after loss.

It's true that fighting is back in the Maroons. But for the UP community so tired of losing, maybe it's time to put winning in the Maroons.