Establishing a New Mindset

So the Green Archers are finally on their 1st winning streak on their 8th game of the season. This is also their 2nd double-digit win in a row while limiting their opponents to just 61 points. The team sputtered off to a 1-3 record but has since been on an offensive tear to turn it around to go 3-1 in the last four games. What has changed and to what can we attribute the team’s significant improvement?

Coach JB has been playing a fixed set of starters lately and have used a familiar rotation pattern with each player again having their respective defensive assignments. By now he knows his players’ strengths and understands how to best use them. I believe the comfort of having a familiar player rotation and being given clearly defined roles relieves the players of any undue anxieties over playing time and in knowing they have a valued role in the team, that boosts their confidence in the process.

In the last four games, our offense has grown more productively steady averaging 79 points. Mini droughts have become a thing of the past with different duos stepping up each game: Balti (25) and Andre (16) against NU, Encho (29) and Aljun (26) against UST, Andre and Aljun (16 each) against UP and Balti (21) and Andre (15) against ADM. Jamie Malonzo is almost always the third contributor. What I love about this team having many scorers is that not one of them actually plays selfishly and we simply ride the guy with the hottest hands in any given game. Coming from a US NCAA, one would think Jamie Malonzo is the type who will demand the ball and wave everyone off for an iso play but he is nothing like that all. He managed to play off his teammates’ strengths and more often scores off a feed from a teammate and has so far generated very good chemistry given the short period he’s known them.
The maturity of Melecio and Caracut on the other hand, have become the glue that binds this team together as they strike the balance between facilitating to get everyone involved while remaining offensive-minded. Then finally, Baltazar is simply the anchor and with 25 points and 25 rebounds, nothing needs to be elaborated further.

On the defensive end, in the last 4 games, they have held their opponents to an average of 67.75 points and we’ve displayed much better team defense especially against opponents with identified scorers whom we target with designated shadows. Malonzo has been taking on the other team’s best scorers from Paras, the Ildefonsos, to the Abandos and Ahanmisis of the league. We have established defensive utilities Joaqui, Brandon, Kurt, Ralph Cu, even Bartlett and Encho giving the other team varying defensive covers. Brandon Bates who does the dirty jobs had a monster defensive game against NU with 4 blocks and 12 rebounds, ten of which gained us extra possessions. He combined with Balti to get 17 of the team’s total 24 offensive rebounds. It is also worth noting that in the last four games we have outrebounded our opponents by an average of almost +11 and an average of 5 more offensive rebounds than ur opponents.

We need games like this to set their winning mindset which Coach Gian talked about in the last interview and boost their belief that they are good enough to dominate any team on any given day. Sure we will still have close games up ahead but wins like this does wonders to the boys’ confidence as we head into the tougher games ahead. So are we ready to face the tougher teams in the second round? When we played the top two teams the last time we were still looking for our identity and the guys were still finding their role in coach JB’s system. We are playing Ateneo again next Sunday and this is as good a time as any to measure ourselves against the owner of the league’s best record and find out how much better we have gotten since then.