With everybody still reeling from yesterday’s second consecutive loss by the Green Archers, I’m certain most, if not all of the headlines written in the form of a recap or a reaction to that game has the words “another meltdown,” “another won game that slipped away”, and the like, in them. However, after sleeping on it and hopefully with most of us already past the stage of intense frustration, disappointment, heartbreak and already in the stage of licking our wounds, I think it’s time to take a different approach in discussing not only yesterdays’ outcome, but where the Green Archers stand at this point of the tournament. With two games left in the first round and the team’ record at 2-3, I can’t blame a lot of people for already fiercely volunteering their diagnosis and different things the team could’ve and should’ve done based on patterns that are starting to emerge. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. We’re all deeply emotionally invested in the team’s fortunes after all.
I’ll repeat a few that I’ve consistently read and heard so far: Salem and Tampus not given more opportunities after providing good minutes in the first half. Other players not given any playing time at all who could have made their own contributions. Oh and let’s not forget, the team’s free throw shooting, of course. Let me add a few of my own: Perkins seemingly not being part of the offense for most of the game. An unclear defensive scheme to hinder, if not completely neutralize, UE’s Mammi. How we managed to be outrebounded by UE, since that has been one of our team’s consistent strengths. Norbert Torres yet to have a breakout game. And most importantly, the ability (or inability) to manage a lead and close out games. I could go on and on, as well all could, but I’ll stop there.
With that kind of a loss, especially coming from a similar one at the hands of FEU, it’s so easy to blow things out of proportion. I can’t blame people for already reaching for the panic button, since the UAAP is a short tournament with not much luxury for any team to take their time to start playing as a cohesive unit and start racking up wins, or to continue to commit the same mistakes that let games slip away. But what I can’t accept is how some people who are already telling me they don’t watch to watch the games at the venue anymore, or asking me with pessimistic overtones if it’s still mathematically possible to make the Final Four. Don’t get me wrong, in previous seasons I was the go-to person in my circle of friends and relatives who keep them updated on the different scenarios- which teams needs to win or lose, which team La Salle needs to beat, etc.- in order for us to ensure a slot in the Final Four. Last season, for instance, that started with about three games left in the second round. At this point it’s way too early to talk about that, because mathematically, all of the teams can still make the Final Four. That’s the way math goes doesn’t it?
As for the disheartened fans who give me this sinking feeling that I will see an even smaller La Salle crowd in the next game against Adamson, I feel deep disappointment. Again, it isn’t wrong at all to point out all the things the team did wrong or all the things they still need to do and improve on. But this is our team, a team that deserves our unwavering support that equals the effort and heart they bring to each game, in spite of their shortcomings so far.
Before I go into the “alleged” silver linings that I still see in the team’s play despite our not too stellar win-loss record, I just want to point out one specific instance where the team’s play starts to suddenly change when a seemingly safe lead has been cut down and the opposing team is on a furious comeback. During an inbound pass to Thomas Torres, with the bigger UE player assigned to him sticking like crazy glue, the rest of the players were all upcourt seemingly oblivious to the possible help needed on the other end, which resulted in Torres receiving a tight inbound pass and immediately turning it over due to the harassing defense and without any other teammate in the vicinity to safely pass to. How to manage a lead and close out games needs to be improved on. That goes without saying.