* I was lucky enough to have been able to watch most parts of the first two games during the opening of the NCAA Season 85. As expected, the college crowd came in force, nearly filling up the Araneta Coliseum. Tickets from the Patron to Upper Box were sold out, with only the Gallery tickets available by the time I got in.
* The first game between San Beda College (SBC) Red Lions and the Mapua Institue of Technology (MIT) Cardinals was a blowout. For some reason, MIT just was never in the game. Even the Cardinal’s main scorer this season, Allen Mangahas, struggled to get his points.
* This gave the opportunity for both teams to give playing time to their bench players and rookies. Both Ellison Maniego and Rome Dela Rosa got major minutes in the second half of the game, allowing them to allowing get a taste of playing before a huge, partisan crowd.
* Ellison wasn’t able to buy a basket from the floor, though, and all of two or three points came from the free-throw line. I know he is a rookie just out of High School, but I feel he should already start becoming more aggressive on offense, because MIT is a team that is looking for somebody help them offensively. He was given the chance to play for their Team A right away, he should take advantage of that as much as possible.
* In the game, he stayed most of the time on the perimeter, waiting for his teammates to find him open. Which, of course, rarely came. In the next couple of games, he should think more of moving constantly in and out, cutting to towards the basket to get more opportunities to score. I know he is supposed to be a shooter, but he needs to vary his offense also, to keep him from being predictable. He should also be prepared to play a more physical game once he starts frolicking closer to the basket.
* The highly touted Rome Dela Rosa also couldn’t buy a basket from the floor, getting all of his four points from the free-throw line. One thing I did notice to be very promising with Rome, is that he is VERY SHIFTY AND QUICK WITH THE BALL. This from somebody who is around 6’4″. Great ballhandling skills, and very shifty with those head and shoulder fakes and crossover dribbles. I like what I see. Give this kid one or two more years, and he is going to be a very promising impact player, indeed. His advantage over Ellison is that he can afford to develop at a slower pace, because other scorers are in place.
* Other highlights is that Bam Gamalinda seems to be back to his scoring ways, I hope it lasts the whole season. Garvo Lanete as always was great, and I finally saw twice his patented “De Quatro (Cross-legged) Layup”. It is very distinctive, and occurs when he drives to his left, and lays the ball up with his right hand, with his right knee bent up. Very unique, something you don’t usually see.
* The Red Army crowd was out in full force, and easily overwhelmed the almost non-existent MIT crowd, which is surprising, because I saw an MIT game at the Cuneta Astrodome last season, and they were out in force then, and very active also. Probably had something to do with the fact that the Araneta Coliseum is far from MIT’s campus in Intramuros.
* Surprise, surprise. The diminuitive Melo Lim made a steal, hit an outside shot, and flubbed a layup after faking with a behind the back pass in the limited minutes he was on the court. While his father is a 6’1″ Point Guard in the PBA, Melo unfortunately did not inherit his father’s height.