La Salle will try to get its second win of the season as the De La Salle Green Archers takes on the undefeated University of the East Red Warriors. DLSU finally broke into the win column last Wednesday after dealing NU its first loss, 57-55. It was a grind it out low-scoring affair unlike the first two games of La Salle, which were both high-scoring games. UE has been impressive in their first two games of the season, dominating both the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons and the Adamson Soaring Falcons. This is the first big test for the Red Warriors.
Last season, DLSU and UE faced each other twice. La Salle blew a huge fourth quarter lead during their first round matchup, as UE defeated DLSU 85-83. In the second round, La Salle was able to get revenge, as the Green Archers defeated the Red Warriors 75-65 in overtime. La Salle and UE also faced each other during the opening day of the FilOil Pre-Season Cup. La Salle was able to pull off the win, 69-62. This is the first UAAP meeting of Coach Juno Sauler versus the family that was once synonymous with La Salle basketball, Coach Derrick Pumaren and Dindo Pumaren.
Keys to the Game:
Breaking the Press:
The irony! The vaunted Pumaren full-court press gave us a 4-peat from 1998-2001 and the 2007 championship. Now, we would need to break the press in order to win this game. La Salle had a hard time against the Ateneo press last Sunday. Now, we would face a more lethal press. With Thomas Torres injured, it’s up to our ball handlers such as Kib Montalbo, Almond Vosotros and maybe even Robert Bollick to break the press. Julian Sargent and Terrence Mustre did not play during our last game, but they might be called upon for additional ball handling duties if there would be a need for it.
Win the battle of the “big guys”:
These are two of the biggest teams in the league. La Salle boasts of a stacked frontcourt with the likes of Jason Perkins, Arnold Van Opstal, Norbert Torres and Yutien Andrada. UE perhaps got the best foreign centers in Charles Mammie and Moustapha Arafat. They would be alternating in the center slot. Throw in veteran big man Chris Javier. During the game against NU, La Salle used the “triple-tower” combination during the end game with Jason Perkins, AVO and Norbert Torres. It would be interesting to see if Coach Juno Sauler will stick with this very big line-up. Ateneo and NU out-rebounded La Salle during the last two games, a disappointment considering that La Salle was supposed to dominate in the rebounding department. In order to win this game, La Salle needs to limit the foreign players of UE and use its frontcourt depth in gang rebounding.
Limit Roi Sumang:
Roi Sumang has been relatively quiet in UE’s first two games of the season but we all know that he can explode anytime. He is perhaps the best point guard in the UAAP today, though he is a scoring guard as well. Mike Tolomia, then Kiefer Ravena, destroyed us during our first two games of the season so we can’t afford to play lackluster defense against another superstar guard. Perhaps, it is time for Robert Bollick to have a breakout game, at least in the defensive side of things, and limit the touches and the good shots of Sumang. La Salle can also alternate the pesky Almond Vosotros and the much bigger Jeron Teng on Sumang.
Guard the Perimeter:
This has been the problem of La Salle ever since the pre-season. Teams such as JRU, which uses a system that is also similar to UE, and Perpetual had a field day against our lack of perimeter defense during the pre-season. FEU and Ateneo used the three-point shot to their advantage as Mike Tolomia, Kiefer Ravena, Von Pessumal and even Arvin Tolentino hit several three-pointers against us, thanks to our slow rotation on defense. We keep on going under the screens, giving our opponents good looks from downtown. If we stick to the big line up of one guard then Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, AVO and Norbert Torres, that lineup might not be quick enough to contest the three-point shots. If Chris Javier gets hot from the outside, UE can use him as a “stretch four” and that would be an additional problem for us. We need to fix this problem or it is going to be a long season for us.
La Salle went 0/16 from the rainbow territory during the game against NU. Yes, that is not a typo, 0/16! I don’t think we can win too many games shooting from the perimeter like that. Hopefully, we can do a much better job shooting from downtown against UE so that our post players can have more space to operate.
DLSU went 13/19 from the line against NU, which is relatively decent for our standards. However, we can do a lot better than that. This game might go down the wire and free throw shooting might be the difference between 2-2 or 1-3.
Who would have thought that going into our fourth game of the season, we need a victory so we can reach the .500 for the first time this season. This is a must win game for the Archers. So far, six teams are showing that they are Final Four contenders, and going down to 1-3 is not a good sign for the defending champions.