Rarely has the third game of any season of the UAAP men’s basketball competition been this important as the match-up against National U for the De La Salle Green Archers.
Starting a season down 0-2 for only the third time in team history (2009, 2011), certain adjustments were clearly made and proven successful with DLSU edging the Bulldogs, 57-55 for win number one in Season 77.
While we expected the move of starting Kib Montalbo in place of the injured Thomas Torres, Norbert Torres made his first start of the season and paid dividends in the game, finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists. From here on out, the La Salle gallery will be expecting more of these types of game from The Bear.
From utilizing 12 players against FEU and Ateneo, coach Juno Sauler shortened his rotation, using only nine players with the big line-up composed of Norbert, Arnold Van Opstal, Jason Perkins, Jeron Teng and Almond Vosotros proving to be the most effective and heavily used La Salle five.
Perkins played big down the stretch, scoring the last six points for the Green and White. The last one an undergoal stab with 6.7 seconds remaining in the game. The 2013 Mythical Five member continued his solid play this year with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Teng, who with 1.9 seconds left in the shot clock inbounded the pass that led to the Perkins shot, had nine points, six rebounds and five assists.
Key stretch of the game
At the 7:22 mark of the second quarter, veteran big man Yutien Andrada converted a three-point play, cutting the NU lead down to a point, 19-20. The next four Green Archer field goals were courtesy of two Norbert baskets, a Perkins jump shot and another and-one play from Van Opstal. La Salle gave up just two points during that span, turning the one point deficit into a seven-point lead with 3:45 to go.
Our four bigs shouldered the bulk of the offence, combining for 37 of the Green Archers’ 57 total points and 60% of the rebounds (24/40). For Season 77, La Salle will only go as far as where its frontline lead them. Opposing coaches have already put importance in defending Almond and Jeron, at times sending double and triple team coverages to limit their contributions.
The 23-point second quarter was DLSU’s most productive period and showed just how dominant and effective La Salle can be if we can get our acts together on a consistent basis.
Key stats of the game
10. In a very close game and missing a key contributor in Thomas, La Salle committed only ten turnovers compared to 16 against FEU and 13 versus Ateneo. Not one Green Archer gave the ball up more than two times, allowing the Bulldogs to score only five fast break points.
NU scoring by quarter: 16, 13, 14, and 12. DLSU gave up 20 or more points in six of eight quarters played against the Tamaraws and Blue Eagles. This time the Green Archers got stingier on defense, never giving National U momentum and rhythm to halt a two-game slide. Special attention was given to NU guard Gelo Alolino, who after scoring 20 points against their game versus UP, was limited to nine points on 3/10 shooting.
0/16. With only 12 perimeter points and zero of 16 from the three-point range, the winning margin could have been bigger had La Salle’s shooters hit their marks from the outside. Vosotros himself clanged all nine attempts from outside. With the fifth-year guard slotting down to the one spot, Vosotros could not run his usual screen routes to get open.
The boys are not yet out of danger, but can certainly breathe a sigh of relief.
Consistency, continuous improvement, intensity, a little dash luck and a lot of spirit. A little faith goes a long way. Animo La Salle!