Anybody familiar with this catch phrase? It is a popular American sports phrase from then-LA Raiders (a National Football League team) head coach and executive, Al Davis during his glory days with the team back in the 70’s. Coming on Wednesday, I think everyone just wants the Green Archers to win so bad, everyone will not mind how that win will come.
Blowout, grit and grind, via overtime, it does not matter anymore at this stage for as long as the Green Archers will get that pivotal, crucial win to still vie for that last spot in the Final Four. Everybody will be happy and get a sigh of relief, at least for one week, before finishing the elimination round on November 18, against one of the top teams in the league, the FEU Tamaraws.
UP, as we all know, is already out of the running for post season action but as what we have seen this season, the Green Archers are susceptible in giving away wins on opponents that the team should have been beating, or perceived to be relatively weaker opposition so this is not going to be another easy, walk in the park game.
Remember, this team beat the Green Archers back in the first round so I am hoping that the defeat will give an extra push and motivation for the team to play well and get a crucial win. Personally, this is one game date I have encircled on my calendar (more than the Ateneo second round game to be honest) since during the first round loss, all my UP friends were rubbing it into me and I hope after Wednesday, I will be the one to rub it off on their faces that their first round win was just a fluke.
So what will it take for the Green Archers to get that win on Wednesday? I will be stressing once again: Defense and transition baskets. This is one area where I think the Green Archers are sorely missing this season. Since the half court offensive execution is not going well, this is one area where the Green Archers can focus more being a smaller, quicker team.
Unfortunately, after seeing the game versus Ateneo, this area is also still a work in progress. The Green Archers scored only 2 fastbreak points the whole game in that defeat against the Blue Eagles. Comparing it to the Blue Eagles, the bulk of their fastbreak buckets came in that 2nd half run, and the final difference (14 fastbreak points to 2) was more than enough to give them the win over the Green Archers last Sunday.
I will keep on stressing these points because I think that there are no off-nights on defense and it is way easier to score on transition buckets off the fastbreak rather than scoring points off your half court sets. If the Green Archers will be able to capitalize on these factors against UP, then everyone of us can go home smiling after the game on Wednesday.
UP is a team that loves to thrive on their opponent’s mistakes so transition defense will be crucial for the Green Archers as well on this game. If the Green Archers will allow UP to score easy buckets either off a turnover or off a missed basket then it will be a long game for the green and white on Wednesday.
UP is also a defensive team that loves to hustle so the Green Archers have to make good decisions on the basketball. Well, there is a leeway to commit mistakes if the boys can go back on defense to stop UP’s transition baskets, otherwise, it is really best to be patient on offense and get the best basket possible so that there will not be any attempt for the Fighting Maroons to get out and run the break for easy baskets.
Just like Ateneo, UP also has its offense emanate from their wing players namely, Jett Manuel and Paul Desiderio. Just like also Ateneo, UP also has this offensive set up wherein the hand-off to their wing players off the pick can become an instant pick and roll option so this should be one of the main focus on defense. If this can be stopped, it will be big for the Green Archers to allow them to score on the break and get easy baskets.
Diego Dario and Henri Asilum can both create something on offense so both players should be given emphasis as well for them not to be comfortable creating something out of ball screens and one-on-one opportunities.
If UP’s backcourt players will be able to create on offense and then push the Green Archers to scramble and rotate on defense, it will give the Fighting Maroons a good chance of winning this game so the green and white squad should be ready to push this young UP team to create and make decisions under pressure and force them to commit mistakes.
How this can be done? By communicating inside on defense and trusting your teammates when they tell you what to do if there will be a switch or telling a teammate which one has to be covered. Playing an aggressive style of defense will take you a long way in a game and will always put you in a position to win the game in the end.
There is still a chance to make it in the post season festivities. All is not lost just yet. I hope the team will make the most out of these two remaining games in the elimination round.