The Green Archers started off the second round the way they did the first – with a loss. This time to the heretofore low-flying Adamson Falcons, 55-61. It was a painful game to watch, the Archers failing to show the heart, grit, and determination they had shown in their last game against Ateneo. Adamson made them pay for it, outhustling and outplaying them in practically all areas.
What went right?
Not much, at least for our team. For Adamson, a lot. Our shooting went south, as it had in the first couple of games in the first round. The team couldn’t buy a basket, while Adamson made it look easy with their penetrations, many of they coming with a bonus free throw off an Archer foul. One positive note, Peejay seemed to have regained his shooting touch, capping his night with a tough, contested trey from above the key. Oh, yeah, Adamson’s pesky pg Lester Alvarez failed to duplicate his career game against us, but it really didn’t matter. The press did force several turnovers, but not enough to make a huge dent in the ball handling confidence of the Falcons.
What wasn’t quite right?
A lot. The Archers were perpetually a half step slow on defense, allowing the penetration and belatedly fouling the shooter who would make the shot for an and-1 opportunity. As in the Ateneo game, the boxing out wasn’t effective because the Falcon bigs were able to sneak in and grab those offensive rebounds. The perimeter defense wasn’t as sticky either, because the Falcons were able to connect on several mid-and-long range attempts. On the occasions where the Archers successfully held the Adamson offense at bay for 20 seconds, they would suddenly allow Adamson an attempt in the remaining few seconds, which would result in a made shot or a follow up.
On offense, that missing half-step translated into not-so-effective screens, hesitation in taking the shots or driving in, allowing the Adamson defenders to close the gaps. The uncertainty on offense caused a few 24-second shot clock violations or hurried shots on the part of the Archers. Some individualistic plays were seen after the players went out of the system.
If there were weights and points assigned to the degree of difficulty as in gymnastics and platform diving, the Archers would have accumulated a lot of bonus points. Adamson was no pushover, but the game was made more difficult by the erratic execution. Passing was lackadaisical, and the Falcons were able to tip or intercept several lazy passes and convert these into turnover points.
This team has too much talent to cave in just like what they did yesterday. The confidence, the mental aspect of the game will also have to be addressed moving forward, if they hope to make it to the final 4.
And finally, Adamson just wanted it more yesterday. That was probably the biggest factor – the desire.
The rookie watch
Like most of his teammates, Arvie was not as effective as in the previous game, tallying only 2 points but still contributing mightily on the boards with 6 in 15 minutes of playing time. Sam continued his streak of 3pointers without making a 2point field goal as he sank his 3point attempt while missing a closer shot. Again, as in previous games, Sam started but played only 7 minutes. Yutien was inserted in the game in an attempt to muzzle the opposing bigs, played 8 minutes, pulled down just 2 rebounds, and committed 3 fouls. Joel played 9 minutes and contributed 7 points. With his spunk and quickness, he is a welcome replacement for LA, although he still has to log major minutes this season. Jed and Gab failed to see action.
Next up, Ateneo on Sunday. The Archers have to regain that focus and concentration that they showed last Sunday, otherwise the well-trained Blue Eagles will make it look as easy as their disposal of UE yesterday. The Archers ca actually upend Ateneo, but will have to execute the gameplan well and play hard and smart until the final buzzer.
With a 4-4 card, our boys need to win 4 more games to have a good shot at the playoffs. That means that they must pick up the wins against UP and NU, and take at least 2 games from contenders Ateneo, UE, FEU, and UST.
It’s all a mental game from here on. The talent is there. The coaches have prepared and conditioned the team, taught them the plays and patterns. It’s now down to execution. And desire, determination, will to win. The team can do it. They just have to want to win more than the other team does, every game, one game at a time.
If you think about it, our 4-game winning streak started after we had 2 losses. Ok, we’ve coming off 2 losses. So is this another 4-game streak we’re looking at? If you can get tickets, watch the Green Archers try to duplicate that feat on Sunday.
KEEP THE FAITH!