The View From the Armchair – Game 5: DLSU 82 UST 84

Scottish author Samuel Smiles said “We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success; we often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.”

And the learning continues. The team is picking up excruciating lessons in shedding the losing ways of the past and reversing the downward slide of the last 3 years.

After 3 consecutive losses in the ongoing tournament, the Green Archers must have accumulated quite a bit of wisdom. All 3 losses were close, decided only in the closing minutes, and all could have gone the other way if one or two things could have happened differently.

Saturday’s loss against a gritty UST team was particularly painful, because it was definitely winnable. A miss here, a long rebound that bounced long and away from our players, a shot released heartbeat late, all contributed.

 A tough-to-take loss

The Archers showed strength of character as they battled the surprising Tigers from the opening toss, fighting through 7 deadlocks and 9 lead changes. They faltered briefly when they allowed UST to surge to a 10-point lead, but came back to almost win the game in regulation with a runner from LA that needed a video review before being nullified.

The gutsy stand carried over into the two overtimes, with the game going back and forth until returnee Mariano blew past a tiring Yutien for the marginal points.

It was yet another game that got away in the closing minutes. Frustrating when you think that it could have easily gone our way, if not for:

  •  17 errors – about our average for the season so far, which UST translated into a point per turnover
  • 22 offensive rebounds by the Tigers, which allowed them to take 86 attempts from the field, 11 more than our 75
  • 6 triples from Bautista, who made 67% of his attempts from beyond the arc
  • 14 misses from the free throw line, negating our team’s success in baiting fouls from UST

An unusual approach

The coaches shortened the rotation, fielding in only 10 players for the 50 minutes of the game. Jeron (43), LA (41), Yutien (39), Norbert (38), and Jed (24) logged the most minutes, followed by AVO, Joshua, Macmac, Thomas, and Luigi. Almond, Oda, Jovet, and Papot who were regular members of last year’s rotation, failed to see action, together with Ponzo and Gab.

We went zone for extended periods, but unfortunately Bautista chose this game to proclaim his return to form, and only a stellar marking effort from Gab prevented more long distance bombs in the last quarter, but by then, the damage had been done and UST was in the game.

We lost despite shooting well from the field, hitting almost 50% at 27/55 from 2-point range while making 4/20 from 3-point range. UST, in contrast, was more accurate from the long court with 9/23 (39.1%) while making 24/63 (38.1%) from closer to the basket.

In an interesting sidelight, Jeron Teng won the battle of the brothers, scoring more points than his brother Jeric  (17-9), hauling down more rebounds (12-3), and issuing more assists (4-1).

Joshua made the most use of his playing time, scoring 13 points on aggressive drives, dishing off 3 assists, to go with 6 boards. His explosiveness was in full display as he repeatedly blew by his guard from the perimeter to score or pass to an open teammate. Yutien again was silently effective under the basket, sliding in to receive passes under the goal for easy conversions. Norbert was held to 7 points, but contributed again on the boards with 10. AVO helped keep UST center Karim Abdul away from the paint, and Macmac provided quality minutes with his 2 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Thomas allowed LA to take a breather, taking over the quarterbacking chores and keeping the Archer offense going. Unfortunately, Luigi couldn’t get going and saw only 3 minutes.

Looking forward

We go up against Adamson on Wednesday. The Falcons were hurt by the graduation of the prized guard duo of Alvarez and Canada, plus big man Colina. However, they remain dangerous with their athletic bigs equally capable of hitting it from outside and driving into the lane for layups or passing off to open teammates under the basket. Classic Leo Austria tactics. Nuyles apparently dislocated his shoulder last weekend, and might not be available against us.

Our boys will now have to make full use of the learning from our losses, because our margin of error is now extremely slim. We can’t afford to drop too many more games, not if we want to remain in contention for the playoffs. As of now, ADMU, FEU, and UST have a lock on the first 3 places, and NU is comfortably ahead of us. This is a must-win game for us, if we’re to have a chance to catch up with NU.

The boys have shown that they’ve improved from last year, and their ability to compete for most of the game in our losses shows that we’re not that far away from the top teams. Now, if they could only close strong. Come to think of it, that’s not too far-fetched. It will be interesting.