The final three games of DLSU in the second round of eliminations in the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament are not just all must-win situations for the green and white. All three teams that they will face are still very much in contention for a Final Four slot. The crucial stretch begins tomorrow against the UST Growling Tigers, who at this point are in the process of trying to find their identity, just like last season due to injuries that plagued the team this elimination round.
Do not let the records of the two teams fool you on how important tomorrow’s game is. DLSU is currently in third place with an 8-3 record, while UST is nearing elimination with a 5-6 record for sixth place. Back in the first round encounter of these two squads, DLSU defeated UST 83-70. Jeron Teng led the way for the Green Archers with an all-around game of 22 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. But the biggest factor was the help that he got from the team in carrying the scoring load.
Jason Perkins scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds while rookies Prince Rivero and Julian Sargent scored 12 and 10 points, respectively. Back in the first round also, the theme of the game was a “grudge match” since it was the first meeting after last season’s classic finals series. DLSU community had so many classic DLSU-UST matches to remember over the years. With the green and white fighting tooth and nail for the twice-to-beat advantage and with UST holding on to their dear life in entering the Final Four, expect another emotional and physical battle between these two proud institutions.
Keys to the Game:
During their first round encounter, La Salle controlled the battle of the boards, 43-35. Expect DLSU to do the same for this game. Jeron Teng, Jason Perkins, Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal and Abu Tratter should not have a problem against Karim Abdul, Aljon Mariano, and the rest of the front court players of the Growling Tigers.
During their last game against Adamson, DLSU struggled from downtown, making just 1/17 from rainbow territory. Hopefully, La Salle can get its stroke back for this game. Robert Bolick was the only Green Archer who made a triple against the Falcons during that lazy Sunday afternoon. Almond Vosotros missed all seven of his three-point attempts. With proper spacing and better ball movement, La Salle should be able to make it rain from downtown this Saturday.
La Salle has been struggling from the line the last few games. DLSU just shot 21/33 from the line against Adamson. Jeron Teng made 7/11 free throws but he missed a couple of free throws during that second half stretch when La Salle just can’t pull away against the stubborn Soaring Falcons. La Salle can’t afford to be a poor free throw shooting team with all-crucial games on their plate, which can be decided by free throws down the stretch. La Salle is actually shooting quite well from the charity line for most of the season and Jeron has improved tremendously from the 15-foot line so just a little more consistency from that area is needed from the Green Archers.
Composure and Mental Toughness:
The first round encounter between DLSU and UST was very emotional and very physical. Kib Montalbo got injured during that game. Hot word exchanges got between the teams after the game during the post-game handshake festivities in the middle of the court. The Green Archers should not lose focus on the task at hand. La Salle seems to be lost and out of focus for the last 3 games. We need the Green Archers that finished the first round strong, the Archers that never lost focus during the start of the second round against Ateneo.
Play Inspired Ball:
La Salle just flipped the “win” switch against UP. DLSU struggled against FEU during the second half that eventually led to the team’s downfall. Add to that, the Green Archers let the Falcons hang around for the almost the entire game. If we exert the same amount of effort we exerted during the Adamson game, then UST just might win this one. La Salle needs to play the entire 40 minutes. No lead is too safe. The team just can’t flip the switch on when needed. DLSU needs to exert effort from start to finish.
Jeron Teng is playing an MVP season averaging 18ppg, 7rpg and 4apg per game. But during the game against FEU, DLSU relied on him too much and failed to get the much-needed victory. Other players should step up! Almond Vosotros has been inconsistent this season. Hopefully, he can regain his shooting on these remaining games.
Most importantly, everyone is hoping for the return to form of Arnold Van Awesome. AVO has been struggling this season, averaging just around 7ppg and 6rpg per game. Everyone knows he can do better than that. Arnold’s return to form will definitely help the team in these crucial three games to also take away the pressure on Jeron and keep defenses honest on focusing on DLSU’s inside game.
Jeron Teng vs. Aljon Mariano Match-Up:
The two star forwards of their teams will go toe to toe for this game. This is probably the last DLSU versus UST game for Aljon Mariano. Everyone knows how he struggled during last year’s finals series. Mariano would have loved to get one big game versus DLSU before leaving España for good. Expect the two forwards to will their way to lead their respective squads to victory.
La Salle had an up and down second round of eliminations, effort-wise in its games. Everyone hopes that the team is saving its best efforts and form starting on Saturday moving forward until the playoffs. The last three games of the Green Archers are all tough opponents and a slight change in the effort meter may cause damage to DLSU’s back to back championship campaign this season since opponents are looking on that window to pound on the Green Archers and get important wins as well. Forty minutes of focus is necessary to close out strong in games which will send a clear message that the UAAP men’s basketball championship this season still needs to pass Taft Avenue.