The View From the Armchair: Game 2 vs FEU

The Game in a Nutshell

The Green Archers outsteadied FEU, 73-62 last Saturday at the PhilSports Arena. The Tamaraws engaged the Archers in a close match which was decided only in the last 3 minutes.

The green-and-white squad outscored their hard fighting opponents, 13-3 in the last 3:39 after FEU closed to 60-59 on a free throw by Ramos. Rico sank a soft jumper¬† for 62-59 and drew an offensive foul from Baracael on the next play to spark that finishing kick. FEU’s pg Barroca was then assessed an unsportsmanlike foul for holding on to the jersey of JV, who canned both gift shots at the 2:56 mark to pad the lead to 5, 64-59. James drained a long 2 from the top of the key with his foot on the line, 66-59, and Rico again proved his defensive abilities by blocking an FEU layup which led to an Archer recovering the ball. Rico fished a foul on a drive and split his fts, 67-59. Cawaling was fouled by Bader on the perimeter, and last year’s rookie of the year drained both gift shots to inch closer, 67-61 at the 2 minute mark. A James miss resulted in a Rico foul on the rebound, but Barroca split his free throws, 67-62. James streaked for the basket and received the lead pass from Simon and was fouled, take 2. James split his charities 68-62. A Tamaraw miss was recovered by Rico, who was fouled in the scramble. The FEU bench was called for a T, but JV missed the front end for his only miss of the night, before making the 2nd, 69-62. An Atkins travelling error was matched by a bad FEU pass. JV then split the FEU defense for an uncontested lay up, 71-62 before he completed his heroics by tapping the ball away from a Tam and receiving the outlet pass for the final points, 73-62.

What the Stat Sheet Tells Us

Shooting – the 3point shot continues to be a major weapon in the Archers’ arsenal, as they collected 24 points on 8/18 (44%) shooting from the long court. JV was perfect, making all 3 of his attempts. Rico and Peejay both hit at a 50% clip, with Rico going 1/2 and Peejay 2/4. Bader missed his first 4 tries before making a clutch trey with the clock running out. Ironically, the Archers were more accurate from 3 point range, as they made only 15 out of 39 2 point attempts for 38%. Although the Archers continued to struggle from the foul line, their 19/29 performance (65.5%) was a significant improvement over their first game. JV was outstanding from the line, going 12/13. Rico struggled, making only 4 out of 10, while Peejay and James made only 50% with 1/2 and 2/4 respectively. A little more practice, please. The Tams struggled from the field as the Archers’ aggressive defense forced them to take hurried shots. The Tams went 3/11 from 3 point land and 18/51 in 2 point attempts for a low 35% performance.

Rebounding – More or less even, 40-39 in our favor. Rico was a monster off the boards, with 17. JV showcased his all around game as he collared 8 rebounds despite being one of the smallest players on the court. Our other big men were relatively quiet, with JWalsh and Ferdinand combining for a total of 3 rebounds, which matched the total collected by the smallest player on both teams, LA. FEU had more offensive rebounds, 13-10.

Turnovers, Assists, Blocks, and Steals – This was one of the rare games where the Archers were outperformed by their opponents in both assists and turnovers. The Archers had more errors 15-13, and less assists, 8-11. The active defense of our team resulted in more blocks, 5-2, and steals, 4-2. Interestingly, the Archers won despite not performing as well as their opponents in assists and turnovers.

What Worked

Defense – The Archers contested virtually all shots and played very active defense with their feet. They had less fouls than in the first game with 26 compared to 34 against Ateneo, and this resulted in less fts awarded to FEU. We had more ft attempts, 29-24, but again our opponent had a better percentage 70.83%, making 17/24. The aggressive full court traps were still not in evidence, and the FEU ball handlers were not unduly harrassed into giving up the ball. This early in the season, the coaches are stil scouting the competition and this early will probably not implement any specific defensive schemes for any team.

Comments on the Game

Our bigs – Aside from Rico, the rebounding of our bigs still leaves something to be desired. The 3 rebounds garnered by JWalsh and Ferdinand is a bit low for players of their size, although both were on the court for a total of only 21 minutes. Their combined 4 points tends to highlight the lack of an inside scoring and rebounding threat. For the second game in a row, JWalsh got blocked on the break. I wish he’d take it really strong to the hoop, maybe even try to dunk the ball instead of trying to fake off the defender. A jump shot is liable to get blocked around the ring by almost all players in the paint. Note to our centers: look at yourself using a full length mirror every day – so you’ll realize just how big you guys really are (bigger and stronger than most players on all teams). Then maybe you’ll play your size instead of inexplicably disappearing from the stat sheets like last Saturday. The skills, the abiity are there, at least we see it during the pre-game warm ups, so we know you can do it. So just believe in yourselves.

Our Rookies – Against a tough, athletic team like FEU, the rookies weren’t given as much playing time, ony 45 minutes for the four who got to play: Joshua, Maui, Hyram, and LA. Maui played almost a half at 19 minutes, followed by Hyram with 12, Joshua with 9, and LA with 5. Still, they gave quality minutes, with Maui and Hyram being fielded in primarily for their defensive skills. Wonder when we’ll get to see Manoj and Jovet play?

The Season So Far

This has got to be among the toughest starts to a season for the Archers, having to play 3 contenders (Ateneo, FEU, UST) in the first 3 games. At this point, with a 1-1 record, the Archers still not firing on all cylinders. The coaches are still tinkering with the lineup combinations, and haven’t yet unfurled the trademark Archer full court “killer press”. Still, the Archers have been doing well considering the relative youth and inexperience of the team. The rookies seem to have embraced the system and understand the roles they have been assigned, and are very defense-oriented. Maui, Joshua, and Hyram earn their minutes playing defense. LA will provide a spark off the bench, but has match up problems against the bigger pgs.

The vets need to continue to show their leadership. JV has led by example, but Rico needs to step up and exhibit better judgement during critical situations. James also has to remember that he’s one of the most skilled one-on-one operators in the league, and can take on anyone. All he has to do is believe in himself. Bader needs to regain his touch from 3 point land, and remember that he has the license to shoot. Peejay has to assert himself on the offense. JWalsh and Ferdinand, please play to your size and potential, and give us that inside presence we need to complement the perimeter game. An inside-outside threat will be very difficult to contain.

The Next Game

Against UST, the Archers face another tall, athletic team who can light it up from the outside, but have an inside presence in Jervy Cruz. They also have former Junior Archer Jeric Fortuna, who is out to prove himself. If the Archers can play the way they did in the closing minutes of the last quarter of the FEU game, we should have a chance. They’ll need to continue to connect from the long court and avoid giving away too many fouls. Also need to concentrate on making at least 70% of the fts.