On October 19, the De La Salle University Green Archers and the National University Bulldogs will try to keep and end their own respective streaks as they face-off in the 2nd round of eliminations in the UAAP Season 79 men’s basketball tournament. The Green Archers are still undefeated at 9-0 and for sure they would like to keep this winning run going while on the other hand, the Bulldogs are looking to end their three-game losing skid.
The Bulldogs’ three-game losing skid is a tough pill to swallow considering they lost those three games in an average of 2.33 points. They could have been on a winning run of their own but instead, they are facing a potential four-game losing skid and what a way for them just in case to rejuvenate and get their confidence back by beating an undefeated team. There can be two kinds of Bulldogs that may come out on this match: A strong one, hungry for a win, or a weak one, with their confidence still being hurt on those three close defeats.
If I remember it correctly, it is only the Bulldogs so far who have established a lead over the Green Archers in a game. Back in the 1st round, it took for a surprise package named Ricci Rivero to catch NU off-guard and out of balanced, enabling the Green Archers to snatch a victory from a game the Bulldogs thought they were in control already after building a double-digit lead in the 3rd quarter. It is also the 1st game where Matthew Aquino played after obtaining a TRO on his eligibility issue.
NU no doubt is going to be still a dangerous team but just like what I mentioned earlier on this article, the Bulldogs may come out possibly flat and low in morale after suffering three very tough defeats. In NU’s most recent game against UST, NU had a terrible start and they found it difficult to keep in touch with the Growling Tigers as Marvin Lee and Louie Vigil provided just enough firepower to give NU their 3rd straight defeat this season.
With all honesty, I am quite confident those mistakes by the Green Archers in their first round encounter will now be eliminated, if not, lessened. It will be important for the Green Archers to have a good start in this game and contain NU’s main gunner, JJ Alejandro. For me, he is the lone Bulldog who can create scoring opportunities not just for himself, but also for his teammates so limiting his production on this game will be very important as it will reduce NU to get their offensive production from Alfred Aroga and Matt Salem.
Matt Salem may get his points off the Green Archers’ breakdown on defense as the tendency so far in nine games for DLSU is to give the perimeter shots. Upon checking NU’s current player statistics, Matt Salem is NU’s biggest threat from deep, shooting at a 36.4% clip so possibly, this can be a game where the Green Archers may not be that hurt from opponents making shots from the three-point region.
What worries me on this game is on the offensive end for the Green Archers. Against NU, more focus is needed to take care of the basketball more and more ball movement is needed to keep NU guessing where the offense will come from. Jeron Teng may have showcased his offensive arsenal against the Bulldogs back in the 1st round especially in the final period but it will not be bad as well to involve the others on scoring to put the Bulldogs away as early as possible.
NU is that type of a team where they also focus on scoring points off defensive stops so it will be important for DLSU to limit their turnovers and stay focused throughout the game. I think man-for-man, NU can also match-up with DLSU in terms of length and athleticism but the deciding factor will be the execution of both teams’ game plans.
Overall, I still see it as a challenging game for the Green Archers. It will not be a walk in the park for the Green Archers especially now that all teams are out really to get that confidence-boosting win on stopping the Green Archers’ winning run. It is doable to get that 10th straight win but hard work and focus will still be needed in order to get the job done in this match.