Despite La Salle finishing the first round with a 3-4 record, there are more stories in between the wins and losses.
The Green Archers could have been sitting at the 2nd spot at 5-2, if not for last second heroics from Rey Suerte and Juan Gomez De Liano. Instead we are here tied from 4th to 6th with Adamson and FEU. The Green Archers is also just a game away from 3rd seed UST and just 2 games away from 2nd place UP. We are also just a game ahead of cellar dweller UE. It has been a roller coaster of a season in the first round. Multiple 1-point games, overtime games, come-from-behind wins and blowouts. And the Green Archers has experienced almost all sort type of games in the first round.
The first round showed us a lot of things from the Green Archers, both good and bad. The Green Archers showed us that it can matchup with everyone, that we held our grounds against top-teams, but also struggled to win and lost against cellar dwellers. The Green Archers showed in a lot of games that it can play 30 good minutes and blow the game in 10 minutes (eg. Ateneo’s 20-0 run, UP’s 4th quarter run). The Green Archers have also shown signs of good offense, 92 points vs UST and bad offense 55 vs FEU. It has also shown good defense like holding Adamson to 61 points and awful defense like giving up 89 points vs UE. The first round showed us how inconsistently inconsistent we can be.
In the first round, multiple Green Archers have shown to take over games, a proof that they have not lacked in talent. From Malonzo and Serrano’s athleticism and abilities to drive to the basket, to Melecio and Caracut’s outside shooting and playmaking abilities, and of course Baltazar’s consistent presence in the paint. All of them have shown to lead the Green Archers in different games. Aside from the stars, multiple Green Archers have been doing the dirty work for the team. From Bates and Cu’s interior defense and rebounding, to Lojera and Manuel’s toughness and versatility on the wings, and Bartlett’s ability to create for him and his teammates, these role players for Taft has slowly shown that they are as equally valuable to the team’s leaders.
While we can’t make excuses about our losses, especially with a short UAAP season. I believe that maybe, just maybe Coach Jermaine Byrd may have finally found the right pieces to march forward into the 2nd round. While there may still be a lot of questions about the team, I believe that the Green and White have answers to everything our opponent throws on us. It’s a matter of consistency and the mental toughness our team needs to enter the Final Four.