The De La Salle Green Archers lost their first game of season 78 against the UP Fighting Maroons. De La Salle are now 1-1 The scoreline suggests a close game but it was far from that – with UP dominating the game from the tip off not only tactically but also through the intangibles – they simply wanted it more.
Tactics win it for the Maroons
The starting unit of De La Salle managed to keep the scores close ending the first quarter only down by 2. However, odd substitutions and brilliant match-ups by UP allowed them to extend the lead and to never look back despite a nervy finish.
First, upon the introduction of the rookie line-up of DLSU, UP played them against veteran guards who would either outrun them for the open three, back down and pull up from mid range, or simply run around screens and get an easy lay-up. It’s a classic example of using experience to their advantage especially for Jett Manuel. The UP guards managed to outplay their DLSU counterparts and build a solid late while the veterans stayed on the bench. A good tactical move from UP to use their advantage over La Salle. The result was a bunch of baskets from Asylum, Manuel, Desiderio, and Dario.
Second, UP clogged the middle by playing a narrow zone defense. More often than not they had at least three bodies inside the paint willing to bang bodies inside forcing the Archers to shoot from the outside. DLSU ended the game 3/24 from downtown with Thomas Torres missing a total of 8 shots and Jollo Go missing 5 shots. 24% of DLSU’s made field goals came from jump shots as opposed to UP’s 60%. DLSU ended the game shooting 28% from jump shots.
Lastly, they employed a full court press which contributed to the 20 turnovers of the Archers. At one point in the third quarter, UP even showed DLSU how to properly break a full court press with a string of 5 passes, no dribbles and a lay-up on the other end. It was a wonderful move from UP which DLSU can definitely learn from.
What also made it rougher on DLSU was odd player rotations – the only legitimate big men of La Salle played a total of 21 minutes, or only 10% of the entire game. The other 90% of the game, players we payed off position in an attempt to do small ball. There were times when Sargent played the Power Forward, Teng played the Shooting Guard for the Archers.
While this may have been a move to induce speed into the line-up in order to outrun UP, the Maroons stayed very disciplined defensively forcing La Salle instead to shoot from the outside. The Archers responded by doing exactly what UP wanted
Gambles on Tactics
It’s not new for Coaches to take gambles on the tactics – had DLSU shot better from the three, it would’ve opened up space for the Archers and the line-up may have been effective. But this all has to do with proper execution as well – not only in terms of running the players which DLSU did to perfection opening up three point shooters, but also making the shot. 13/46 or 28% is hardly a number to be proud of.
However, the fourth quarter saw a change in fortunes when De La Salle decided to finally attack the paint cutting the lead down to as low as 4 but it was a little too late. Time was not on their side and had they started this sooner, along with the sense of urgency, they may have come away with a win.
Basketball is often more than just numbers and tactics – it’s sometimes about will as well. And it looked like UP was simply more interested in winning as compared to the Archers based on how they would react per basket, how they played, and generally the body language of the Archers.
It’s fair to say that this may simply be a bad day in the office for the Archers. That on a normal day the shots would go inside. But as college basketball players in the premier league in the country, much is expected and it’s simply time to look forward and improve daily – like what Coach Juno always says. It’s now time, more than ever, for the team captains to step up.
A bigger test awaits the Archers against FEU and they will need to make those open shots, and manage their turnovers. They are already executing their plays properly minus the end product, it’s now a matter of turning those opportunities into points.