Ateneo tries to claim UAAP men’s basketball crown in Game 2 today vs UST

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PHOTO COURTESY: Ateneo Blue Eagles Supporters FP

MANILA, Philippines — That’s true, Ateneo is on a roll, 15-0. So who could possibly stop the Blue Eagles from claiming the 82nd UAAP men’s basketball crown when even the advance game statistics favors them?

It’s the UST Growling Tigers who are out to spoil the Blue Eagles party and try to stretch their best od three championship series to a deciding Game 3.

And for sure all roads this 4p.m. leads to the MOA Arena which is also expected to be filled by a sea of Blue and Yellow colors.

Yes. Correct. Coach Tab Baldwin and the Ateneo Blue Eagles are up there even in the advanced statistics but sports pundits say, the ball is round and its still anybody’s ballgame even when the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles look poised to annex their third straight UAAP title.

The UST Growling Tigers, however, are still very much alive and kicking, having won three of their last four games in the Final Four and raring to spring a huge Game 2 upset to force a titular decider against the defending champions.

Here are s0 poome advanced metrics and analytics to determine just how close (or how far apart) the Blue & White are from their Black & Gold counterparts.

Ateneo has 76.9 offensive possessions and 73.6 defensive possessions per game. On average, the Eagles have an overall pace of 75.3 possessions per game, which is the lowest among all eight teams. That basically means that the Eagles have played with the slowest pace in Season 82, which is why they don’t lead the league in a couple of per game statistics like scoring and rebounding when, in fact, they are the best at both departments on a per possession basis.

On the other hand, UST has 81.8 offensive possessions and 77.5 defensive possessions per game, combining for an overall pace of 79.7 possessions per game, which is actually 3rd lowest or 6th overall. That means that contrary to popular belief, UST actually doesn’t play with the “fastest pace” (that distinction belongs to NU with an overall pace of 83.7 possessions per contest). The Tigers, in actuality, play a more deliberate style than the casual fan may think, and that “mirage,” so to speak, has been one of their “secrets to success” in Season 82.

Now the numbers:

Ateneo de Manila scores 101.1 points per 100 possessions (we can simplify this by shortening “per 100 possessions” to “per hundred” or “ph”) or 101.1pph. They also allow just 82.4 pph from their opponents for a total net rating of +18.7. Ateneo scores 18.7 more points than their foes per 100 possessions, which is by far, the very best in the UAAP. A far second is FEU at a net rating of +5.2, while UST’s net rating is -0.4.

Why is Ateneo so good at scoring? Well, much of it is because of their ball movement and the fact that they can hurt opponents in so many ways. The reigning champions top the league with 22.2 assists per hundred (aph), while UST isn’t too far pbehind with 19.9 aph (3rd). The Blue Eagles, however, also lead the entire UAAP in inside scoring (49.7 pph), 2nd chance scoring (24.2 pph), fast break scoring (16.8 pph), and scoring off turnovers (28.7 pph). The lone scoring method where Ateneo is average is in perimeter scoring, where UST is, in fact, the best at 48.0 pph, which is mainly because the Tigers actually hit the highest number of threes with 13.4 triples per hundred.

And speaking of threes, UST has gotten a bit of a bad rap as a volume scoring team because in terms of basic stats, the Tigers are shooting just 37.1% from field, which is good for second to the last place, but if we use advanced statistics, in particular what basketball data analysts call Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%), UST is shooting much better. The eFG%, you see, takes into account the “added value” of a three-point shot compared to a regular two-point field goal. Whereas the regular FG% assigns equal values to a two-pointer and a three-pointer, the eFG%, actually balances things out in a much more realistic way. (IAMIGO/CNS)

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