Green Archers Looking at Four in a Row Against the Fighting Maroons

The De La Salle Green Archers will try to make it four wins in a row as they take on the winless University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons for their sixth game of the season.  The Green Archers are on a roll, showing that they can win against tough teams (NU and UE) and teams experiencing a slump (Adamson) as the first round is coming to a close.

DLSU had a relatively ease beating UP last Season 76, 96-84 in the first round and a memorable 85-63 win in the second round.  Memorable since UP gave La Salle a scare in the first half at the very least as the Maroons took a 42-35 lead at the half time break before DLSU surged and stepped on the gas pedal in the second half to pull away.

Keys to the Game:

Control the game from the start
Last Saturday against Adamson, the Falcons were in the thick of things for most of the game before La Salle used a huge late third quarter run to take control and put away the match for good.  It would be better if La Salle can take control UP from the get go.  It seems like during the first 25 minutes of the game, the Green Archers played to the level of competition against Adamson, and they were just confident that they can just “flip the switch on” anytime to pull away.  That is a very dangerous game to play especially on this UP squad.  UP showed flashes of brilliance during their games against Ateneo and UST, keeping the game relatively close before self -destructing towards the end.  UP is a team that is very hungry for a victory and DLSU should not underestimate the Fighting Maroons.

Bench mob time
During the Adamson game, a lot of the role players and bench players got the much needed playing time and exposure.  Hopefully, that would also be the case against UP.  With Norbert Torres and Arnold Van Opstal nursing minor injuries, it is time for Abu Tratter and Yutien Andrada to handle the big man duties for the Archers.  Hopefully, Jeron Teng, Almond Vosotros and Jason Perkins can get some breather during this game and not play their usual heavy minutes.  Kib Montalbo had a huge game last Saturday, and another good game from him this Wednesday will get him ready for the huge showdown against UST this Sunday.  “Prince Archer” Rivero can also have another good game tomorrow off the bench.  Julian Sargent and Robert Bolick showed what they could contribute to the cause of the Archers last Saturday on both ends of the floor.  Terrence Mustre finally made his UAAP debut last Saturday.  If he gets more minutes this Wednesday, maybe he can be more aggressive and not just settle for jump shots.

Perimeter scoring
Kib Montalbo was 9/11 from the 2-point region against the Falcons, making 8 mid-range jump shots!  It was a shooting clinic from the sophomore as he torched Adamson all game long.  Hopefully, Montalbo can be consistent from the mid-range, something former Green Archers such as TY Tang and even Cholo Villanueva used during their college years.  Almond Vostoros can also hit it from the mid-range.  Maybe Jeron Teng can hit a few mid-range shots as well, as the defense of UP might give him that shot anyway.  And we all know that Jason Perkins is a good shooter from the mid-range.  Hopefully, the “in-between game” can be a reliable weapon for the Archers as the season goes along.  Setting up the mid-range perimeter game can and will definitely allow opposing defenses to adjust.  Getting confidence also from mid-range can slowly help extend the range until the comfort level to shoot from way deep increases.

Watch out for the “Lasallian-Maroons”
Mikee Reyes, Gelo Vito, and JR Gallarza (okay, Andrew Harris may also be included since he practiced for a year in Taft).  All of them played for La Salle in the past and are now with UP.  Reyes and Vito played for the La Salle Green Hills Greenies in the NCAA juniors while Gallarza, of course, had a stint with DLSU’s Team B who played in the Father Martin’s Division II for some time.  All players are expected to contribute for the Fighting Maroons.  Who knows if they will have a Fonzo Gotladera-type of a game tomorrow?  Team defense will be the key and not underestimating these guys tomorrow to prevent them from having another breakout game against their former team.  I am sure the older fans still remember what Mikee Reyes did to us during his rookie year back in 2009, when he led UP to an upset win over the Archers, the last time UP defeated DLSU.  For me, that game is one of the defining moments of the so-called “dark years” of DLSU.  The Archers should make sure that there would be no encore of the Mikee Reyes career game from several years ago.

Closing notes
The first round is about to end and after a slow start, the Green Archers are now slowly but surely building momentum.  It has been said that in the UAAP, it’s not how you start, but how you finish, and peaking at the right time is one of the keys in having a successful season.  Some even notice that the team is just putting the right amount of effort to win every game.  Remember, in a short season like UAAP basketball, the timing of releasing your cards is and will always be critical for a team’s success.  What is important is that La Salle is now getting the groove it needs to find ways to win in every game, as it showed in its past three wins whether it was on strong opponents or on a perceived weaker team.  Last season, the Green Archers waited for the second round to get that momentum going.  This season, the team is in a better position to start gaining headway at this point of the season towards closing the first round of eliminations.