JD Cagulangan

Three Thoughts From UP’s Win Over DLSU in the FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup

UP and La Salle met for the first time since their epic UAAP Finals Game 3, and they immediately picked up where they left off.

The preseason for collegiate basketball is in full swing, with the PinoyLiga Collegiate Cup already underway. On Saturday, the other preseason tournament that fans look forward to – the FilOil EcoOil 17th ECJ Preseason Cup – also took off with a quintuple header featuring UAAP and NCAA teams.

Tu sum it up, NCAA Season 99 runners-up Mapua Cardinals beat the Lyceum Pirates, 75-67, the Perpetual help Altas under new coach Olsen Racela nipped the JRU Heavy Bombers, 91-89, the UE Red Warriors took down the Adamson Falcons, 65-57, the defending NCAA champions San Beda Red Lions outlasted the Letran Knights, 76-69, and the defending FilOil champions UP Fighting Maroons held off the reigning UAAP champions De La Salle Green Archers, 89-77.

The UP-DLSU game was clearly the marquee match-up of the day, a rematch of the UAAP Season 86 Finals which saw the Green Archers pull off an epic win in Game 3 to cop their first UAAP title in seven years.

It was the first time both sides faced each other since that Game 3 in December, so it was understandable that emotions were higher than usual. Players got chippy a few times, and the referees were busy all game long breaking up some skirmishes. The Fighting Maroons, in particular, were looking forward to the game.

“Very excited kami na La Salle agad makakatapat kasi para sa’kin, big game para sa’min ito. Buti naman, nag-respond naman nang maayos ang buong team,” said JD Cagulangan, who scored 19 points and was named Player of the Game.

In the end, the Fighting Maroons clamped down on defense in the fourth quarter to pull away and win comfortably.

“Happy in a sense na, alam naman nating first game pa lang ito, pero seeing the players respond, ok na ok sa’kin yun. Ang importante sa’kin is getting the exposure we need for all our players, especially against La Salle pa,” said UP head coach Goldwin Monteverde.

Here are three observations on the game.

KQ is still KQ. The La Salle community held their bated breath for a few weeks as the awaited a firm announcement from reigning UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao about his plans for Season 87. He eventually decided to come back, and on Saturday he showed why he’s arguably the best local college player in the country and why the Green Archers’ fortunes are tied to his performance.

Quiambao came off the bench, and UP took advantage of his absence by racing to an early 14-point lead. But once KQ entered the fray, the Green Archers slowly made their way back and had even tied the game in the third quarter.

KQ finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds and was a +4, tied for highest on the team, with an efficiency rating of 18. He didn’t have a good shooting night, going just 5-of-12, but he made plays for his teammates and was active on defense.

The Green Archers will need KQ to have another MVP-caliber season for them to repeat. La Salle has talent and experience, but Quiambao is the glue that holds them all together.

Kingsley Udodo isn’t Malick Diouf. Season 86 MVP Malick Diouf finished his three-season career with the Fighting Maroons with one championship, one finals MVP, and one regular season MVP and left as one of the most beloved players in UP basketball history.

He also left fans wondering how his replacement as foreign student athlete (FSA) would measure up, and on Saturday they got a glimpse of it. Kingsley Udodo is being penciled in as UP’s FSA for Season 87, and naturally all eyes were on him.

Udodo finished with 6 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, but got himself ejected at the end after getting into it with Jonnel Policarpio with the outcome already decided. He also struggled at times when matched up against his DLSU counterpart Henry Aguanne, who is at least three inches taller.

It’s probably unfair to judge Udodo by just one game. He does have more muscle than Diouf and moves a little more gracefully. But the comparisons to Diouf will linger, especially if Udodo can’t put up the same numbers. In the end, though, it might not make much of a difference if UP keeps winning games.

These two teams definitely have beef with each other. I guess it was totally unexpected for players from both sides to get physical and into each other’s faces, which is what happened several times on Saturday.

Michael Phillips and Francis Lopez had to be separated early in the game, and from that point it was game on for both of them. CJ Austria ignored Harold Alarcon’s attempt at a low five. Policarpio got on just about everyone’s nerves, while Mark Belmonte foolishly drew a technical foul for taunting Aguanne after a tough lay-up.

Personally, I love it. This is a competition, and two teams going at it like this in a preseason game means they both want to win badly at each other’s expense. Just keep it clean and violence-free.

Banner Image courtesy of the FilOil Media Team.

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