The View from the Armchair: Game 13 vs FEU

After the loss against FEU last Saturday, not a few thought “It’s all over but for the shouting”. Well, almost but not quite. You see, miracles do happen, occasionally. Well, half a miracle anyway.  Because on Sunday, UST, with the 4th playoff berth theirs for the taking, lost to Adamson. The door remains open, but just a crack. On Thursday, the Archers wait for the other half of the miracle – they do their share and win against NU, and hope that UE plays true to form and beats UST to give the Archers a tie for the 4th slot, and a playoff against UST.

Back to the FEU game. The Archers lost a must-win game against powerhouse FEU, but not before forcing the Tams into a nailbiting overtime session before finally coming up short by just 2 points. The Archers dictated the pace for most of the game, only yielding the lead in the 4th quarter. This must have been FEU’s toughest game this season, their anxious moments aggravated by the effective Archer defense on Barroca, Cawaling, and Ramos.

With the loss, the Archers are assured of a losing record for the first time in a long while. With a 5-8 record, the best the Archers can finish with is 6-8 assuming they win over NU.

What went right

The defense, both halfcourt and transition, shocked the Tams and forced them to play at the pace dictated by the Archers. The crisp execution of the game plan that limited national team players Barroca, Ramos, and Cawaling to 22 points. The effective shackling of Barroca, forcing him into an ineffective game on 2/12 field goal shooting on top of 3 turnovers and no assists. The tight guarding of Cawaling, hounding him into a similar 2/14 shooting performance.  Only Ramos managed to score 10 points.

The aggressiveness and intensity of the young Archers as they matched the veteran smarts of the Tamaraws for most of the game. The small ball tactics that worked wonders against the taller FEU team, forcing them into 25 turnovers.

Oh yeah, the great example of successful execution of coaching tactics in the closing seconds of regulation, which played exactly as Franz drew them up after calling timeout to “freeze” RR Garcia prior to his last ft (which he missed) that led to the Marata triple to tie the game. And the last defensive stand that prevented FEU from scoring.

What wasn’t quite right

Not much, given the composition of the team that played today. The young ‘uns played most of the game, and among the veterans, only Kish and James saw minutes. There were some unnecessary fouls on Tams even though they were on the perimeter, and these contributed to the Archers’ foul trouble throughout the game.

Only the heroics of rookie Garcia and Cervantes saved the day for FEU. This also highlighted the difficulty of the Archers in guarding good dribble/penetrators and mobile big men.

Possibly the biggest factor was the rebounding prowess of the taller Tams, which gave them a 53-39 advantage on the boards.

The rookie watch

Good performances by Yutien, highlighted by his drive that started from the halfcourt and resulted in an and-1  situation. Sam’s touch from the outside returned, with two killer treys that forced the overtime. In fact, he was asking for the ball before hitting the trey to cut the lead to 2, 64-62.  Joel’s effective quarterbacking continued, and he continued to give a good account for himself as an effective rebounder despite his size. Gab contributed a lot of hustle during his brief stint, while Arvie had an off game and failed to contribute.

Looking forward

The season hinges on the results of Thursday’s games. We must win against NU, to put pressure on UST during their game against UE which follows ours. UE will probably not want to enter the playoffs coming off a loss, so I would expect them to go for the win. UST, on the other hand, is a mystery. They had the opportunity to knock us out last Sunday by beating Adamson, but failed miserably.

Half a miracle to go.