The Clipboard: Mayhem looks to tame the Tigers

After pulling the Tamaraws’ horns and taking the fight away from the Fighting Maroons, Coach Aldin Ayo and the De La Salle University Green Archers’ patented mayhem defense will test their mettle and try to tame a resurging University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers unit on Wednesday for their third game in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament first round of eliminations.

Both teams came off victories last Saturday so expect that both squads will be very eager to stay on the winning track at the very least on this stage of the elimination round. The Growling Tigers had to thank Renzo Subido’s individual brilliance on the 3rd quarter which was enough to stave off the University of the East Red Warriors, 88-87 while the Green Archers just stamped its class over a hapless University of the Philippines squad, 89-71.

For UST, their barometer so far on their two games is their backcourt production. On their opening game defeat against Ateneo, Subido, Jon Sheriff, and Marvin Lee only combined for two points. Subido was the only one who scored on those three mentioned backcourt regulars for Coach Boy Sablan with two points. Sheriff and Lee finished the game scoreless.

Back on the Growling Tigers’ victory last Saturday, Subido, Sheriff, and Lee combined for 55 out of UST’s 88 points. Subido finished with a game-high 26 markers, Sheriff scored 15 while Lee contributed 14. My question now is; will this production be consistent every game for Coach Boy Sablan? With La Salle’s defense always predicated on forcing turnovers on the opposing teams’ guards or whoever is bringing down the ball, I am not sure if Subido, Sheriff, and Lee will have the same field day on Wednesday.

Not to take away credit from those three players but they did a hell of a showing against a UE team who also loves to pressure their opponents non-stop but it is just that this UE teams lacks the mental aspect for them to play a complete game for forty minutes. When I say complete, it means it produces a victory in the end. You do not just simply put pressure on your opponent to make stops. You also have to think while putting pressure in order to get results from it.

Louie Vigil is yet to make an impact on UST’s two games so that’s another aspect to look at. Louie may be eager as well to put up a good show just in case his backcourt mates will have a difficult time getting their groove on offense. Bonleon is also another question mark. This guy can score, literally flat out score but it seems that he is not part of Coach Boy Sablan’s rotation. Embons played only 10 minutes against Ateneo and it further decreased to just 8 minutes against UE.

I do not think there will be changes regarding UST’s offensive production come Wednesday. Most of the scoring will come from the 1-2-3 positions. Frontcourt scoring will arrive once our bigs will help out on the defensive rotation. It means that in order for UST’s bigs to score, it will have to come from putbacks off offensive rebounds or drop passes from their backcourt and wing players. If La Salle’s defense will force UST’s backcourt to be erratic whole game long, then this will be a long day for the Season 79 hosts.

I also expect Coach Boy Sablan to field and rotate more of this frontcourt players to cover Big Ben Mbala. After his monster performance against UP despite getting a lot of bumps here and there from UP’s frontcourt players, Ben was still able to flourish. The worse thing there is, Ben just mentioned that he is not yet satisfied on his performance. It means he will still improve as the season goes along and this could be not a good news for the Growling Tigers on Wednesday.

After two games, I am quite getting used to La Salle getting most of its points and setting the game’s tone via its defense and not from its half court sets. There are times that I feel that some extra possessions get wasted off the opponents’ turnovers because of decision-making but it also makes me think that what if those possessions get converted, this will just make the opponents’ day even worse.

The team may be erratic so far on half court sets but they really compensate with the intensity being shown on defense. I am always surprised that the Green Archers already have a big lead because you will never or rarely notice the scoring bunches because of the pace of the game. The mayhem defense is not just all about getting those steals, reading and intercepting the passing lanes. The mayhem is much more on making your opponents play chaotic as well, which results to having the Green Archers dictate the tempo of the game.

On Wednesday, or even perhaps this whole season, it will be more of La Salle will win if their defense will click, not on if this player clicks on his offense. It is quite clear that if the Green Archers’ mayhem defense can take away the backcourt production of the Growling Tigers, this will be another victory for the green and white squad. I just do not see anyone on the front line of the Growling Tigers that can serve as a threat individually on offense that will change the defensive plans of the Taft-based squad.