The De La Salle Green Archers beat the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 80-76 to end the first round with a 4-3 win-loss card, putting them in third place despite what most viewers would call, an unimpressive season so far for the Archers.
Coach Juno Sauler started with one change in their starting five with Prince Rivero coming in for Larry Muyang. Ateneo started similarly, with Chibueze Ikeh coming off the bench. Ravena lead the attack of the eagles during an opening salvo that allowed the Blue Eagles to erect a 15 point lead.
First 15 Minutes
The Archers were thoroughly outplayed by the Blue Eagles for the first 15 minutes of the ball game. It was not because they were not running their plays. In fact, for the first time this entire season, we saw that the Archers had plays to free their shooters, a few penetration plays for easy inside points, and an offensive system that was absent against some of our losses this season. However, it was lapses on defence that allowed Ateneo to pull away. Ateneo shot 51% from the field showing great efficiency in their basketball during the first half.
However, Ateneo was more creative. Kiefer Ravena and Jerie Pingoy had their way in dishing out numerous assists for easy baskets for the Blue Eagles. The Blue Eagles ended the first half with 15 assists paced by Ravena’s 11 points and Pessumal’s 8. Notably however, the Blue Eagles found a way to involve many of their other players in Capacio, Apacible, and Babilonia. Ravena made all his assists during this time and had 0 assists for the rest of the game.
The biggest issue with the Archers this entire season would be the lapses on defence which has allowed many team to take advantage of this. Often, the Archers would dare their opponent to shoot from three which is a lower percentage shot. However, at this point, the coach staff has acknowledged that the UAAP has numerous capable shooters that will cause them harm. Capacio (ADMU), Suarez (UST), and Inigo (FEU) won’t be your first option offensively but have been left wide open by the Archers several times already. It was a worrying trend that was finally corrected by the Coaching Staff.
This started during the last 5 minutes of the half and carried on until the end of the game. Majority of the points of Ateneo came from:
Offensive rebounds by Ikeh
Kiefer’s Brilliance Offensively
This is a far cry from the assists an open jumpers that the Archers gave up during the first 15 minutes of the ballgame. To do this, the Archers minimized mismatches while defending by going over screens and sticking to their man. With Ateneo void of any offensive fluidity, and off the ball players, the Archers were able to stick to their plan by playing good solid defense.
This coupled with the energy injected by Thomas Torres, Prince Rivero and Jason Perkins, the Archers managed to grab the lead eventually before it was a possession based game that was decided on efficiency rather than lucky moments.
Ateneo shot 40% in the second half, down from a high shooting clip of 51% while they held Pessumal scoreless.
Teng versus Ravena
Teng and Ravena have a lot in common – both massively gifted players and the face of their current team. The King Archers and King Eagle both have won games for their respective schools and are often the marked players. However, both often are criticized for stifling the offence with the preference of taking the shot themselves especially when the teams are suffering.
The Ravena that was present in the first half was that of one without pressure – a man sharing the ball and passing off to his teammates for the easy score. Ravena made 5 assists in the first half, 0 in the second half.
In contrast, while Teng still has the tendency to prefer isolation players and use his speed and strength to overpower his opponents, the second half often showed his ability to pass the ball especially when he knows things aren’t going his way.
Torralba’s wide open three to give the Archers the lead was the result of Teng’s stature – a drive in which Ateneo players collapsed freeing up Perkins. The man on Torralba rushed over to Perkins who made the extra pass to an even more wide open Torralba. It was Ikeh deep in the post who ran over to defend the shooter. Had that shot missed, Teng, Rivero or Torres could’ve gathered an offensive rebound because Ikeh was already out of position.
It may have taken 7 games but Teng is slowly maturing before the eyes of the Archers, trusting the system and trusting teammates. If he continues to play that way, the Archers will be a strong force in the second round. Similarly, if the Ravena of the first 15 minutes will play, then Ateneo will be tough to beat.
Despite the massive win, lots of questions are still posed on the part of the Archers particularly playing defence for 15 minutes and guarding players who like running off screens, especially against FEU
But despite everything, winning against Ateneo will do a lot for the confidence of a very young team. Caracut has experienced the pressure cooker and ended up with 6 points while Navarro also made his mark. Tratter has started to catch the balls and should he build on this display, the Archers will have another player to count on to deliver efficient performances.
Torres and Teng lead by example and it’s something the Archers have been looking for all season, especially against a big team like Ateneo. The captains have finally showed up, perhaps the Archers will now shine.