Archers Go for Third Straight Against Hapless Soaring Falcons

The De La Salle Green Archers will try to win three games in a row as they take on the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Saturday for their fifth game in the first round of eliminations in the on-going UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament.  After a rocky 0-2 start, La Salle is now starting to get its groove, winning close games against two previously undefeated teams, the National University Bulldogs and the University of the East Red Warriors.

Adamson meanwhile, has been winless so far in four games, but they showed flashes of brilliance during a 50-49 loss to the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers last Sunday.  However, they lost to NU in embarrassing fashion, setting the lowest point total in a game in recent memory, 62-25.

DLSU and AdU faced each other twice last season.  Both games were thrilling contests, and some would say, controversial games as well.  During the first round, La Salle defeated Adamson 70-67.  It was a much-needed win that time for the Archers after heartbreaking defeats to both FEU and UE.  That game not only snapped a 2-game skid but it also avoided a potential 4-game losing streak as we lost to NU the following game to end the first round.

The Archers and Falcons met again, this time, during the opening day of the second round.  The Archers completed a season sweep of the Falcons, thanks to an Almond Vosotros baseline jumper with time almost running out in overtime, with a 70-69 win.  This victory started the Green Archers’ 9-game win streak in the second round of eliminations going to the playoffs.  The rest, they say, is history.

Keys to the Game:

Do not be overconfident
UST almost paid the price when they underestimated Adamson last Saturday.  The Falcons actually led for most of the game, until their inexperience got exposed during crunch time.  Thanks to a Kent Lao free throw, Uste escaped with a 1-point victory.  After the trashing Adamson received against NU, the Falcons will try to bounce back and try to put on a decent performance this time around.  La Salle can’t afford to be overconfident against Adamson.  The Falcons have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  La Salle is currently on a two-game winning streak, and the next two games will be up against winless teams.  La Salle needs all the momentum it needs before the crucial grudge match against UST to end the first round so it is valuable and important for DLSU not to lose against perceived weaker opponents.

Play for 40 minutes:
UE showed their killer instincts against UP and Adamson.  Ateneo showed they could dominate an opponent during their game against the Falcons.  And of course, NU flat out humiliated Adamson from the get-go.  La Salle has been inconsistent so far this season, blowing huge leads against FEU and Ateneo and needing come-from-behind wins against NU and UE.  DLSU needs a dominant win to show everyone that UAAP Season 77 is still La Salle’s yard.  La Salle should build an early lead to take the fight away from the Falcons early on.  This would give more time to the bench players of La Salle during the second half to gain exposure and confidence.  Terrence Mustre has yet to play this season.  Players such as Yutien Andrada, Matt Salem, Julian Sargent and Abu Tratter only had limited minutes so far this season.  La Salle needs its bench to regain its confidence and having them play extended minutes is the way to do that, and an early lead will be the key for the bench to get more minutes.

I think La Sallians all over the corporate and business world are willing to bet all of their monthly earnings that DLSU would not turn the ball over 36 times against Adamson.  Up to now, it is still incomprehensible to most how DLSU won against UE despite 36 turnovers.  Fortunately, we won’t face the vaunted Pumaren full-court press this weekend.  Who knows, it might be the other way around this Saturday.  Adamson is a rookie-laden team and La Salle should take advantage of this.  Perhaps, La Salle should try and set up a few traps against the ball handlers of the Falcons in hopes of creating easy fast break opportunities for the Green and White.

Three-point shooting:
During the last 3 games, La Salle missed 25 straight three pointers.  Yes, that is not a typo, 25 straight missed three point shots!  La Salle missed a couple of three pointers during the last few minutes of the game against Ateneo, missed all 16 three point attempts against NU, and missed all of their three point shots during the first half against UE before finally making one mid-way through the third quarter.  Almond Vosotros has not been on “Vosotres” mode the last 2 games, he just made one trey out of seventeen attempts from downtown against NU and UE!  We are indeed fortunate to beat strong teams such as NU and UE with such horrendous three-point shooting.  Hopefully, Vosotros and the rest of the Archers will finally get out of its shooting slump this weekend.  Perimeter shooting will be a key weapon since Adamson will pin its hopes of stopping their opponents via their 2-3 zone defense which they used in both their UST and NU games.

Free Throws:
Of course, no La Salle article would be complete without talking about free throws!  La Salle shot just 13/24 from the line against UE and we only won by 2 points!  UE had the last shot of the game and it was fortunate that in Roi Sumang’s missed attempt to tie the game, the referees did not blow their whistle to send UE’s lethal scorer to settle the game from the charity stripe.  It was a good thing that Jeron Teng shot a decent 6-for-9 from the line.  Hopefully, La Salle can shoot well from the line against Adamson on Saturday.

Closing Notes:
It was a tough first four games for the Archers this season especially they had to face teams predicted to fight for a Final Four slot.  We could have been up there in the standings at 4-0, down in the cellar at 0-4, or maybe still stay at the top of the leaderboard at 3-1, but we settled for an even 2-2 slate to begin our quest for back to back UAAP men’s basketball title.  The next two games will be crucial for the Green Archers.  With six teams fighting for Final Four slots, an upset loss is not an option.  La Salle continuously has to build up on its current winning streak to keep the momentum on as the first round nears its conclusion.