The View From the Armchair (Game 3 vs UP)

The Green Archers moved out of the cellar position they jointly held with UP with their first win at the expense of the Maroons yesterday at the Philsports. As a diehard supporter said, the win felt like a championship.

The Archers had a jittery start, allowing UP to take an 11-point lead behind the accurate long distance sniping of former DLSZ player Martin Reyes, but closed to within 4 at the end of the first quarter. They then clamped down on defense and held UP to a season low 4 points in the second quarter to take the lead for good. After falling behind by double digits, UP rallied to within 3 points but successive treys by Bader restored the comfortable margin which the green-and-white team maintained to the end.

Shoot that ball!
The team continued to struggle on offense, needing 84 shots to connect on 27 field goals for a low 32% shooting clip. Making 1 out of every 3 shots isn’t going to make it easy to win games, particularly against the better teams.

The 3point accuracy today is still way below par. It seems to be a collective lack of confidence, because many of our players can sink those shots regularly. It’s easier to defend against the Archers when they’re not hitting their long shots; all the opponents have to do is clog the paint, and we don’t score. Something UE and FEU did, and we saw the results. Once our gunners regain that confidence, the team will be that much harder to defend because the defense will have to spread out, and our inside game can start to click.

The execution on offense is better, but there are still some mental lapses that lead to turnovers. More concentration and focus will lead to better execution, which is the area that Franz is now focusing on. The plans have been laid out already, scouting of other teams is ongoing, and all that remains is the execution part. With all teams having played 3 games as of this writing, the coaches now have a better idea of how the opponents play, and we should start seeing specific game plans against opponents instead of the generic play we’ve seen so far.

The Archers held UP to 63 points after giving up 65 in each of their first two games. On paper, that looks very good, but we must remember that UP is offensively challenged. Still, it shows that the defense is starting to stiffen, and yesterday it was instrumental in forcing UP into 32 errors that were logged in the stat sheets. Of course, UP is an error-prone team, but nonetheless many of those turnovers were forced by the aggressive and active defense of the Archers. Unlike UE and FEU, UP does not have good penetrators on the dribble, so we didn’t see if the drive-and-dish plays would still work.

One area that showed improvement the team’s poise when UP rallied to cut the double digit lead to 3 points in the 3rd quarter. The Archers refused to be rattled, and strung together several baskets to defuse the rally and restore a double digit lead. Against UE and FEU, the team buckled down under the pressure when UE and FEU got hot. They also minimized their errors (yesterday’s 15 was the team’s lowest in 3 games) despite the second half trap and press of UP. The team’s grace under fire against UP augurs well for the rest of the season.

Still a learning curve
It’s apparent that Franz is allowing the team to make their mistakes early in the season. He also shows his confidence in the players by allowing them to shoot their way out of a slump. So expect to continue to see Peejay hoist those long ones, and sooner or later (probably sooner), he’ll start connecting. It must be remembered that he’s been a marked man this year, together with James. And since most of our players perform well as a unit instead of as individuals, creating their own shots is not their strong point, unlike Cortez, Yeo and Cardona or even Casio.

Franz went to his veterans yesterday, and they showed why he continues to give them ample playing time despite their so-so performances in the first 2 games. James was the first Archer to hit double digits this season, and was very efficient on offense, hitting 7/13 from the field and collecting 4 offensive boards. Bader also shot well at 5/10 including consecutive 3 pointers that broke the UP rally in the 3rd quarter. Hyram’s playing time was limited by fouls, but he very capably orchestrated the offense and provided the quarterbacking together with Simon. Joshua provided the fire and hustle and seemed to have energized the team whenever he was on the floor. Peejay continued to misfire, but has maintained his shooter’s mentality, and we expect him to start hitting his shots soon.

Among the rookies who saw action, Sam Marata was held scoreless by the tight marking of the UP players, who already had seen what he could do in the pre-season. Arvie Bringas showed tremendous effort, capped by a team-high 8 rebounds, but missed most of his shots. Joel Tolentino ably orchestrated the plays during his 8 minutes on the court.

All of the players have seen action after 3 games. Yesterday, Jed Manguera entered the game for the first time this season late in the first half. DNP – Yutien Andrada and Gab Banal.