In all my years watching and covering the Green Archers, I have never appreciated the adage of the team can lose to any other team save for the Blue Eagles until now. The upset loss against UP and getting blown-out by league leaders FEU and UST has made the team look mediocre, struggle to find proper form and enter Sunday’s Ateneo matchup with a frustrating 3-3 win-loss record.
So much has been asked from the team’s most experienced players this year: Jeron Teng, Thomas Torres and Jason Perkins, that the trio sometimes try to do it themselves too much. Even on this game, with the three combining with Prince Rivero and Josh Torralba to get the bulk of the playing minutes, thoughts of having enough gas in the tank until the final buzzer were on the corner of my mind throughout the game.
One can say that DLSU’s first seven games have be solid at best and up-and-down at worst.
So much for my worries. Combining for 36 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists, Jeron, Thomas and Jason played inspired and fearless, leading the Green Archers to a confidence-building win over Ateneo, 80-76. Excellent defense in the second half, teamwork and execution that led to Torralba’s three-point shot and clutch free throws to ice the game are great signs that hopefully the team has finally turned the corner.
Giving credit where credit is due
It was refreshing to finally see Abu Tratter provide quality minutes off the bench. His stat line may “only” be four points and two rebounds but Abu set a number of great screens in the second quarter to help free up the lane for the La Salle guards to drive. Jason also played his way out of his personal five-game slump; the player formerly known as the “Hefty Lefty” hit a trio of three-pointers in La Salle’s 18-4 run bridging the second and third quarters.
Despite still trailing 36-46 at the half, Perkins’ first conversion with 56.4 seconds left before intermission allowed DLSU to hang around and keep the Blue Eagles within striking distance. Jason’s second trey finally gave La Salle its first taste of the lead, 49-48 while his final one not only ignited the team but the whole Green and White gallery as well.
Perkins was also responsible for the assist that led to Torralba’s late three-point conversion; passing up the ball allowed the team to get an open shot and the basket that sealed round one in favor of DLSU.
Kudos also to the team and the coaching staff for staying composed even when AdMU was on a roll at the end of the first quarter and led 13-25. In a game of this magnitude and importance to both proud institutions, one could sense that even with Ateneo leading by as much as 15, 20-35 at the 6:06 mark of the second quarter, DLSU was in no mood to give its Katipunan counterparts an easy win.
Great La Salle Defense
After giving up 46 and 48 second half points in their past two loses against UST and FEU respectively, the Green Archers finally played great defense when it mattered most. Aside from limiting the Blue Eagles to 30 points in the final two quarters, Torralba, Jeron, Julian Sargent and Torres were able to limit Ateneo’s main scorers Keifer Ravena and Von Pessumal to a combined 4/19 shooting (10/35 overall).
Highlighting La Salle’s brilliance on the defensive end was Ateneo only managing to convert a single basket from beyond the arc in the second half and struggle to shoot 3/18 for the entire game. Perhaps sensing that Ateneo’s point guard rotation consisted of rookies, DLSU also employed 2-2-1 and man-to-man full court presses just to give the Eagles’ backcourt a little pressure and a different look.
UAAP Season 78 1st Round recap
Save for La Salle’s shocking 66-71 loss against the Fighting Maroons, one can say that DLSU’s first seven games have be solid at best and up-and-down at worst. Close wins against defending champions NU Bulldogs (67-63) and yesterday against AdMU show what the Green Archers can do and accomplish when they put their talents and skills to good use on both ends of the court.
Blowout loses against the veteran-laden rosters of FEU (75-93) and UST (61-77) and even wins against Adamson (88-71) and UE (71-64) were great lessons to the team that basketball, at least in the collegiate level, should be played the whole 40 minutes. DLSU managed to stay close with the Tamaraws and Tigers during the first half but in both games struggled to find their bearings in the third quarter and eventually lose by big margins.
For the second round, La Salle can ill-afford to give-up 25-30 point quarters while at the same time missing shots and going on scoring droughts when the ball is in their possession. Doing the math, the Green Archers have a combined 123 of 203 (60.59) mark from the charity stripe; DLSU might have gotten away with a 50% clip (14/28) against Ateneo, but will have a hard time winning should they continue this trend.
The team’s play has indeed by shaky to say the least, leaving die-hards and avid supporters to lose their confidence on the Archer’s chances for the title this season. If this win against Ateneo somehow serves as a galvanizing moment for both the Green and White squad and the Lasallian community then so much the better.
Animo La Salle!