The Clipboard: Strong Finishing Kick

After FEU’s loss to Adamson last Sunday, most of the talk that I had was centered on La Salle getting the #1 seed going into the Final Four regardless of the result against the defending champions, the FEU Tamaraws on Saturday. Surprisingly, I got mixed reactions. Some do not even care already since they are just looking forward who the #4 team will be, in which the Green Archers will face in the semifinals. Some are of course, still pushing for a La Salle win on Saturday to finish the elimination round on a good note.

On those some who want La Salle to win on Saturday against FEU, I can still split it off into two. Those who want the Green Archers to respond huge, or in short they want to see a blowout and convincing win. Some just wants to see the Green Archers win, regardless of the winning margin. To be honest, I want to see a strong and convincing win from the Green Archers. Personally, I ask myself if that will be asking too much from the team but after the lackluster effort that I have seen against Ateneo, I think it is just right to see some fireworks from the Green Archers on Saturday.

When I say fireworks, it means putting up the best effort on both ends of the floor. I strongly believe that if the team plays really well on both ends of the floor, chances are, it should result to a big win no doubt. The Green Archers will have to play on a high level on Saturday. FEU is coming off back to back defeats and they are fighting for their dear lives to get that coveted twice to beat advantage in the semifinals. With this reason alone, FEU will definitely come out extra motivated to get a win against the Green Archers.

We can also add to that historically or should I say normally, FEU plays really well against La Salle. The Tamaraws always bring their A+ game against the Green Archers. Maybe because most of the people leading the school and its sports program are from Ateneo, which gives them another source of motivation to beat La Salle. So once again, I hope that the Green Archers will be very much aware that their opponent on Saturday will be ready for the kill from the opening tip until the end of the game.

Missing from the Ateneo game is the usual quick and snappy defensive rotation of the Green Archers which rattles off opposing offenses and then later on, produces turnovers leading to easy baskets. I want to see this again on Saturday because more than the offensive production and firepower of the Green Archers, watching them get one steal after another and getting easy baskets on the other end gives me more joy and excitement to the mayhem brand of basketball of the green and white squad.

Most of the people that I have talked to refer this as the hustle factor in the game. I am hoping that we will be able to see the Green Archers raise their level of hustle and intensity and bring that mayhem grit in order to take this big game against the defending champions. I do not really care who is playing for FEU now. I only have one thing in mind: FEU is still the defending men’s basketball champions regardless of who is playing for them this season so putting a 200% effort on the floor is simply a must to pull off a huge win on Saturday.

Another thing that I expect to see is the physical style of play from both teams. For sure, no one will back down on Saturday from the guards, to the wing men, until to the big guys, it will be an intense match-up on both ends of the floor. Just like what I said, FEU is fighting for their twice to beat lives and it will be important for the referees to try and control the game this early on a positive way. Not by controlling by taking away the chance for a team to be aggressive on every effort that they will make on the floor.

FEU has definitely watched (well, I guess every other team did already) and reviewed thoroughly La Salle’s loss to Ateneo last week Saturday so I expect to see the Tamaraws try and do some of the things that Ateneo did to pull off that win last Saturday. Notables things can be quick passing and ball movement to not allow the Green Archers to settle on their defensive rotations and keep them scrambling on defense. Another thing also that I expect FEU to see is to fight for those loose balls and outwork the Green Archers for extra possessions on offense.

In as much as I want to emphasize only defense for the Green Archers, I would like to see better ball movement from the green and white squad on Saturday in order to generate points on offense, which is a bonus for me. Last Saturday, I personally thought that the Green Archers took so much challenged shots compared to swinging the ball more to find the open man and get open shots. I thought Ben’s shots were not in the flow of offense and he had to work more to get his shots going unlike on the previous games that Ben’s shot attempts were in the flow of things.

Also, in as much as I want this to be a blowout game (hopefully to the Green Archers’ favor), I will not be surprised if this game will be a very tough one which will test once again, the Green Archers’ resolve. It can also be a character-building game for the Green Archers, especially that FEU is out to prove that despite losing two straight games, they still deserve to finish number 2 in the elimination round and get the last twice to beat seat in the Final Four.

I actually treated last Saturday’s loss as a bad dream that I hope to go away as soon as possible. By getting a win on Saturday against the defending champions will surely help that bad dream to be forgotten. It is always a plus to go into the Final Four coming off a win rather than from a loss. I consider this stage of the tournament a crucial point because after this game, the next games will be pressure-packed games already for the Green Archers so responding positively against FEU will be indeed a big plus going into the Final Four.

This game against FEU will not just be about tactics and strategy. I am pretty much sure the coaching staff of both teams prepared hard enough to think that each team is capable of getting a win on Saturday. But this game will be all about who wants it more, who will display more effort, more desire, and more hunger since both teams wanted so bad to go back on the winning track.

Either team may have different reasons why they wanted to go back to the winning track, for La Salle, it is to respond and end the elimination round strong while for FEU, to have hopes on getting that twice to beat advantage. In the end, both teams want the W, but only one team will get it and I just hope that the Green Archers will come to war more prepared than ever this time around and ready to kill anyone that stands on its path.