Finally! Our first win showing our full potential this season. Never mind if it was against an also-ran U.E. squad. Hey. That team gave us a scare once again. The brilliant play of UEs Belleza (as identified and seen by old and new interim coach Boyzie Zamar of the James Yap era UE team), and the ever presence of their main guy, Roi Sumang, made life very hard for us. Belleza really gave us very anxious moments before we finally took control and pulled away from them slowly, but surely. UE only lacks personnel, not heart.
We needed a good challenge and that is what we got in UE last Saturday. We didn’t need a pushover team. We needed someone to toughen us up, much like a prized fighter preparing for a big match, using the BEST spar mates available.
Leading that full potential win was big man Arnold Van Opstal. Still raw in his moves, he should begin to realize that sans Slaughter, he is the TALLEST and BIGGEST local player in the UAAP. Aside from being 6’8″ tall, he is built like a linebacker. I feel that this is the only thing AVO doesn’t realize. When he is in the paint and gets the ball there, he doesn’t need to finesse his way towards the basket. He has to POWER his way up into it. If he gets blocked, SO WHAT? He should just compete for the ball and when he gets it POWER his way up into the basket AGAIN and again, and again…………
For two games now, AVO has been stepping up. And we need another presence in the paint after Yutien came down with a sprained right ankle. Now because of the last two games, we have a very distinct advantage in AVO for the rest of the tournament. A very tall AND wide body. Nobody has a local player in their line up like that, except Ateneo. So, why shouldn’t we exploit it to the hilt?
Our back-up 1 and 2 guards are also slowly coming up to their full potential. For the second straight game, Almond Vosotros was a presence. He is no longer a shrinking AND complaining violet. He has stepped up to fill the shoes of an oft injured LA Revilla. Almond should realize that LA is NOT 100% and so he SHOULD be. Thomas Torres has also been showing consistent performance this season, although in this game, you can see that against a super guard like Roi Sumang, he is still vulnerable to a post up or strong driving guard. His body is still too small to out-position a stronger guard. His court generalship skills though, are exceptional.
Mark Tallo is still a raw but spectacular talent, as show by his drive and drop-pass move. He is still in the “street ball” skill level, highly talented but a little bit out of control. BUT he is coachable, and has a very decent defensive posture. THAT is why he is being used. Our guards should really take the cue from Return of the Jed Manguera. He couldn’t crack the team A line up as an offensive player (which Jed was known to be in high school). So he honed up on his defense, and is now part of our starting five. Talk about re-invention.
We still have one more guard who is not seeing action, whom I feel should get some minutes. Jarelan “ODA, not Yoda” Tampus. This guy has no fear. He also has a no-nonsense defense. But he cannot crack the rotation of this years Green Archer team because he lacks an outside shot, and our game in the first round was a half court game. Now that our game is speeding up at different selected stretches, Oda should be used from time to time. When our game speeded up. however, his time, however, has been eaten up by one player called TENGSANITY. Can’t blame the coaching staff. It’s a really tough season for Oda. BUT I guess that he is an important player during our scrimmages. KEEP PLODDING ODA. We STILL need you.
Norbert and the bank shot. What can you say now. Norbert played a steady offensive game when he consciously takes a bank shot up close. But the three things that Norbert brings to the table game in and game out (never mind his erratic scoring) are his interior defense, his rebounding, and his PASSING. Norbert’s court vision is like a guards’. What a nifty pass to Thomas Torres on the cut (returning the compliment to Thomas a play earlier).
Guys, I could go on and on like the Energizer Bunny. My only point is this. If you cannot see the tremendous UPSIDE of our team after this win, then consider yourselves blind and dumb to basketball. This was our first blow out win. Against a fighting Red Warriors team. We should be a fresher team on Wednesday when we face an ecstatic BUT battered UST Growling Tiger squad. If we win that one folks, we will be one of the favorites for a Final Four slot, and 2nd place for the twice to beat advantage is NOT an impossibility.
One more thing. The yellow bands with the initials JMR which the team wore on their jerseys? Don’t put it beyond the possibility that he had something to do with that blow-out win. If you were to ask me, he had a LOT to do with it. You are going to be missed and we HONOR you greatly Secretary JMR. Your final journey is SURE to be a very pleasant and fulfilling one.
ANIMO, Secretary Robredo.