Without must scoring options unlike the past several seasons, it will be defense that will carry the Green Archers through this season.
In their last game, they were able to keep in step with a UP Fighting Maroons squad that thrives on open-court basketball. Unfortunately in the third period, the team allowed their opponent to dictate the tempo which enabled them to score 22 points. They managed to adjust come the final quarter but it was a little too late. The defense lapse to begin the second half became the turning point in this match.
But the good thing here is that overall, La Salle is doing a much better job on the defensive end as compared to last season. This what keeps them in the game despite being undermanned. If FEU and UP had not gotten the right breaks down the stretch, the Green Archers could still be undefeated at this point in the tournament. That’s how competitive they remain to be.
So moving forward, La Salle should stay consistent defensively. Never give their opponent to pull away since with only 11 players, it will be hard to play catch-up. This is no longer the same squad that dominates games and wins by double-digits. We can expect all their games to always be tightly-contested. Keep the game close, no letdown on defense and eventually, the offense will come.
With FEU losing to UE last Sunday, the Green Archers still remain in a good position in the standings. They still have three games left in the first round, two against the current top two teams.
Today they face the 1-3 UST Tigers that is coming off a blowout loss to Ateneo. Thought they are a rebuilding team, they have shown that they can can hang tough even. The fact that they manage to beat FEU means La Salle should not let their guard down despite having the clear edge in talent and experience.
Of course, the side story in this game is former head coach Aldin Ayo now calling the shots for the Tigers. He and Louie Gonzalez go a long way back so it will be interesting to see how they will out coach each other when they face-off for the first time.
This game promises to be not only just physical, but highly emotional as well.