In a span for 30 actual minutes and 15:22 of official game time, my line of thinking went from wondering how big La Salle’s winning margin against Adamson might be to “please, please, send this game into overtime!” In the end, getting outscored 15-27 in the final period and cold 20% shooting doomed what should have been a solid win into a head-scratching, scapegoat-searching 74-75 loss.
With DLSU playing its first game in 10 calendar days, rust definitely played a factor in the first half en route to a slim 37-34 Green Archer lead. Things seem to finally click after intermission as a quick 11-3 run gave La Salle its first double digit lead of the game, 48-37 with 6:45 to go.
Sophomore Prince Rivero did most his damage in the first (eight) and third (12) periods using under goal stabs and the use of proper English on the ball to shoot 9/13 from the field. Prince’s 23 total points went along with Jeron Teng’s 22 points, five rebounds and seven assists but the rest of the team combined to only shoot 9/41 (21.9%) for the entire game.
Aside from getting outscored in the final 10 minutes, compounding La Salle’s woes were guns shooting blanks, highlighted by the team missing 10 of 12 attempts from beyond the arc. As the Falcons employed a 2-3 zone, the Green Archers were contended to live or die from the three-point area that unfortunately backfired on them.
Not one to make excuses but the final sequence where a double-teamed Jeron passed the ball to Tomas Torres on the corner, followed by a drive and kick-out pass to Andrei Caracut showed how young and inexperienced the team is in clutch situations.
Down by only one with 8:5 seconds left on clock, a two-point conversion would have been enough to get the win, instead the Archers fall to 4th place in the standings with a 5-5 win-loss record.
A tale of two players’ readiness
After seeing action in only half of the team’s 10 games and getting spot minutes, rookie Andrew Langston was finally given ample playing time (14 minutes) and responded with eight points on 3/6 shooting, one rebound and one steal. Despite being known and recruited by the team as a three-point specialist, Langston showed brilliance in transition plays that resulted into high-percentage baskets in the paint.
His eight points are a (so-far) UAAP career-high and his point production has exceeded what he has produced in five UAAP games to date: five total points (three vs. UST and two against UE, both in Round 2). This game against the Soaring Falcons showed how being prepared despite getting DNP-CD (Did Not Play-Coach’s Decision) status in several games can help a player eventually be part of the regular rotation.
Fellow rookie Andrei Caracut meanwhile, has missed La Salle’s past two games against UST and UE and was clearly not 100% ready and fully fit for the Adamson game. Having been out due to illness from allergies, Andrei had as many points (three) as turnovers, shooting a woeful 1/7 from three point range and 1/10 overall.
Caracut’s only basket actually gave DLSU it’s biggest lead of the game, 57-41 at the 4:38 mark of the third but the Green Archer’s clearly needed more from their prized rookie to have a chance to win the game. Torres’ pass to Andrei at the final play of the game instead of shooting the ball himself was a perfect case of how being too unselfish hurt the team.
Despite making only 2 field goals from 11 attempts the whole game (2/9 from the 3-point line), I would have accepted a miss by Torres instead of the bungled, non-attempt to win the game by Caracut. We all know how deadly Andrei’s stroke can be but the he clearly was not experienced nor ready enough for that final play.
Next four games
La Salle’s next four assignments promise to not only be a series of tests of basketball skill and teamwork but of character as well. Both National University and Ateneo are raring to avenge first round defeats while the UP Fighting Maroons want to prove that their first round “UPset” was no fluke.
The Typhoon Lando-postponed game against league-leading FEU may become a non-bearing one if DLSU goes 0-3 in their next three matches and fail to clinch a slot in the Final Four. All hope is not lost, but the margin of error decreases by every loss and is inversely proportional to the pressure to win each succeeding match.
It has been a challenging season for both the team and the Lasallian community to say the least. The boys, as well as the coaching staff are fighting hard, but for the next four playdates, they must also play smart and composed basketball.
Animo La Salle!