Pre-game: De La Salle Green Archers vs UP Fighting Maroons
It’s a battle between the opening weekend winners, as the De La Salle Green Archers take on the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the 3rd day of the UAAP Season 78 on Wednesday, September 9. La Salle won its opener against the defending champions NU Bulldogs, 67-63 thanks to the heroics of King Archer Jeron Teng while UP surprised many by winning the first game of the season as they defeated the UE Red Warriors 62-55. UP has long been considered as the doormat of the basketball tournament, but with new coach Rensy Bajar and with an able management team, the Fighting Maroons are looking for a decent performance this season. La Salle, on the other hand, is considered as a young and undersized team, but is determined to make it deep into the playoffs.
Keys to the Game:
Watch out for Gelo Vito and the rest of the “Lasallian-Maroons”
Remember when former LSGH Greenie Mikee Reyes exploded for his career game against DLSU during the second round of the 2009 UAAP Season? There is always an axe to grind when you play against your “former team” whether in the UAAP or in the professional level. Former LSGH Greenie Gelo Vito had a good game against UE, as he scored a team-high 11 points for the Fighting Maroons. The other former La Salle players who are now wearing Maroon did not do much during their first game: former DLSU Team B Player JR Gallarza scored only 1 point, another former DLSU Team B player, Andrew Harris, went scoreless, while former DLSZ Junior Archer Noah Webb played limited minutes and went scoreless as well. Webb is the brother of former DLSU Green Archer and now PBA player David Webb. Expect the following from these La Sallian Maroons: Gelo Vito will be a vital player for the Maroons this season, while Gallarza, Harris and Webb will play better this Wednesday compared to their season debut last Saturday. Underestimating these guys would be a huge mistake.
La Salle led by as many as 15 points against NU. Then the Bulldogs cut the lead all the way down to one, before the veterans of the Archers stepped up and sealed the win. Granted, UP doesn’t have the same weapons as NU does, but La Salle should be consistent all through out the game. If La Salle can build a huge lead; then maintain it all through out the game, it would give the rookies who did not play as much, or did not play at all, some much needed playing time. Which brings us to our next point.
Coach Juno Sauler only played 9 players in the first game of the season. Rookies Jollo Go and Andrew Langston only played spot minutes, while rookie Andrei Caracut, sophomores Prince Rivero, Abu Tratter and Julian Sargent, and veterans Jeron Teng, Thomas Torres and Jason Perkins all played heavy minutes all through out the game. Hopefully, the other players can strut their skills in this game. If La Salle can build a sizable lead and maintain it then hopefully, the rookies like John Gob, Lorenzo Navarro, Leo Joson, Daryl Pascual and Larry Muyang can make their UAAP debut on Wednesday. We all know Coach Sauler likes a short rotation, as evident during our playoff runs where only 7 players would get heavy minutes. But this early in the season, let’s hope that the other players, gets more playing time and contribute to the cause of the Archers.
The Archers are the favorites to win this game. But nothing is cast in stone and upsets may happen. Taking the Maroons lightly would be a huge mistake. UP actually forced overtime against DLSU during the FIL-OIL tournament before the Archers escaped with the win. And after the win against UE, the Maroons are confident and are raring to get the first upset of the season. The Archers should take it one game at a time, one possession at a time. The key is to keep on improving with each game. While La Salle has a date with season favorites FEU this weekend, it cannot take UP for granted, and they should use this game against UP to improve themselves, to sharper their arrows and get a piece of the early season lead.