First off, Wednesday was indeed the worst performance the Green Archers have played so far this season. Coming from a heartbreaking loss to Ateneo, we thought that they would play with a lot more fire and energy especially with FEU playing without one of their top scorers. But as it turns out, they played listlessly for long stretches and it went down to one key defensive stop in the last few seconds to escape with a two-point win.
As expected, many supporters online have voiced out their displeasure over the team’s poor play. The most consistent complaint has been their defense which admittedly, has not been on the same level as last season. As a result, two losses and several near-losses in the first round.
Given this constant dissatisfaction despite having a 6-2 record, questions begin to surface as to whether the team is not playing the way they should be or the expectations by many are just too high that anything less of a blowout win will not sit well for them.
Actually it’s all yes to both.
True, the team is still an ongoing work in progress. We acknowledged in our past articles that a lot of work needs to be done for them to be the same cohesive unit as they were last year.
But then, last year was different as well so we need to manage our expectations. The truth is, the Green Archers no longer have the same depth a season ago.
The team is now without Jeron Teng, who can barrel his way to the basketball, takes charge on offense when necessary and can deliver in the clutch. You no longer have as well a veteran playmaker in Thomas Torres, versatile power forward Jason Perkins and a tall lockdown defender in Julian Sargent. They left very big shoes for the holdovers to fill.
With La Salle losing key pieces from its championship team, opponents of course will have a much easier time playing against them. Whereas before they had to strategize their defensive on both Jeron and Ben Mbala, the primary focus is now solely on the latter. Though the team is still loaded on offense, it’s the consistency and to some extent, the maturity that is still lacking.
So with this, don’t expect the Green Archers to just steamroll once again to the title. The team as well as the playing field is different now. Let’s all be content that they remain very much in good shape and on track to defend their championship.
Tomorrow they will be facing a UP team who dealt them their only convincing defeat so far this season. It was a game wherein La Salle was simply out of rhythm on both ends and UP just could not miss from the outside. Let’s see if the Fighting Maroons can replicate the same torrid outside shooting because with not much scoring options inside, this the only way the can defeat La Salle once again.
For the Green Archers, they will surely have revenge at the back of their minds heading into this game. They must however take caution and not let their emotions get the best of them.
Interestingly enough, La Salle has not yet won over UP this year if we include the two matches in Davao last March. Let’s see how the Archers will play this one out.
At this point, it does not matter whether they win big or not. For as long they score more points than their opponent after the final buzzer, that’s all that matters.