Preview: DLSU Green Archers vs NU Bulldogs: Can the Archers bounce back? Or is this the beginning of the end?
Back in 2009 and 2011, La Salle ended the first round with a 4-3 record. Unfortunately, DLSU only won 1 game during the second round during those so-called “dark years”. Those teams were considered good on paper, or at least decent enough for a possible Final Four run, but it was not meant to be.
This year, La Salle ended the first round with a 4-3 record. So far, we only won 1 second round game out of the 3 we have played. Is this a case of deja vu? Are these current Archers up to the challenge?
The struggling and inconsistent De La Salle Green Archers take on the equally struggling, and desperate, defending champions National University Bulldogs this Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena. The game has Final Four implications written all over it, as both teams are hungry to start a winning streak, and try to make it to the Final Four. La Salle is still smarting from a 75-74 upset loss to the league last placers Adamson Falcons. What was supposed to be a “sure win” game turned out to be a very bitter defeat, as we kissed our twice-to-beat advantage dreams goodbye. Because of that unfortunate loss, the Final Four is not even a guarantee. Here are the keys to the game.
Fix the rotation:
Andrew Langston played the best game of his UAAP so far last Saturday, as he scored 8 points in just 14 minutes. Maybe, the coaching can give Langston more playing time this Wednesday, perhaps in the 18-minute range. Larry Muyang only played 14 minutes, when earlier in the season, he had good games when given more playing time. And how come Julian Sargent played for only less than two minutes? But what is the most glaring mistake of Coach Juno Sauler’s rotation? Thomas Torres was given almost 25 minutes, which brings us to our next point.
We need Thomas Torres, starting point guard material, and not the commercial model.
To say that Thomas Torres has been struggling this season is an understatement. Sure, he had a few good games here and there, but he has not been consistent, at all. During the game against Adamson, he shot a horrible 2/11 from the field, and 2/9 from the 3-point line. And he only had 2 assists. Thomas is a shoot-first “points” guard. That would have been ok if he would shoot well, but with the way he has been shooting, and with his lack of quarterbacking skills needed for a senior starting point guard, he has been a liability this season. With 4 games left in the elimination round, it’s either Thomas shapes up, or the coaching staff needs to make some major adjustments with the point guard duties of the team. We have been sounding like a broken record here, but if Thomas insists on being a trigger-happy “points” guard and not as a dependable playmaker that he is supposed to be, then our season might just end soon.
Don’t settle for 3-point shots
Because of the analytics sensation that has been sweeping the basketball world, especially the NBA, more and more teams are viewing the 3-point shot as an important weapon. And it is an important weapon, if used properly. Having a nice play that would lead to an open three-pointer is always a good thing, as evidenced by the Joshua Torralba corner 3 that sealed the win against Ateneo during the first round. However, we can’t “live and die” with the three. And we shouldn’t settle for three point shot when the game is tied, or when the opponent lead is just one, as evident during the Adamson game last Saturday as the Archers jacked up one three point shot after another during crunch time when we didn’t need a three. DLSU shot a horrible 3/24 from downtown against the Falcons. Thomas Torres went 2/9; Andrei Caracut went 1/7 while Joshua Torralba missed all of his 4 three-point attempts. That is why teams can just play the zone against the Archers and dare La Salle to shoot threes. Yes, we should improve our three-point shooting, but we should also look for other options aside from just jacking up contested three-point shots. If the coaching staff can’t find a solution to this problem, then our season might be over in a few weeks. And by the way, there are tried and tested ways to crack a zone defense.
We are down. But not out. If we win all our remaining games, we would finish with a 9-5 record, good enough for the Final Four. If we lose just one more game this elimination round, an 8-6 would still be good enough for a Final Four berth. A 7-7 record might give us a playoff for a Final Four berth. But a 6-8 record might not be enough to make it to the Final Four. A solid team effort is needed to save the season. Jeron Teng should prove that he is a real leader. Thomas Torres needs to be a much better playmaker. After a huge game last Saturday, Prince Rivero should bring that momentum and be a more consistent “big game” player for the Archers. And Jason Perkins needs to get out of his scoring slump.
And to paraphrase the commercial of our beloved starting point guard:
Archers don’t give up, because the season is not yet over!