Pre-Game: De La Salle Green Archers vs FEU Tamaraws
The heavily favored De La Salle Green Archers takes on the defending champions FEU Tamaraws this Wednesday, 4pm at the Mall of Asia Arena. Several weeks ago, the two teams figured out in a heated tune-up game, a game so heated that they decided not to finish the match. La Salle had a huge lead before the game was stopped, but who is counting anyways, right? Both coaches also played some “mind games” during a recent UAAP Press Conference, as both expressed their eagerness to finally “finish the game”.
FEU swept DLSU during their season series last year. The Mighty Tams used a back-breaking late 3rd quarter run during the first round to dominate DLSU during their opening round encounter. And during the second round, which ended up as the last game of the season for the Archers, FEU, using mostly their bench players during the fourth period, defeated DLSU in a do-or-die game for the Archers. During the 2016 FIL-OIL Pre-Season Cup, La Salle eliminated FEU, 91-71 during the quarterfinals.
FEU lost a lot of key players from last year’s championship run, veteran players such as Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, RR Pogoy and Russel Escoto. But never count out FEU, as year in and year out, they field a competitive team, consistently finding players, players that might not be necessarily considered as “blue-chippers”, but they end up as quality players. Some of their more reliable role players from last year are looking to finally shine in the UAAP, players such as Raymar Jose and Monbert Arong. Expect the Tams to be Final Four contenders for this season.
Ben Mbala was said to be the target of the physical FEU defense during that infamous tune-up match. Expect the Tams to be very physical towards the Archers, especially to our stars, Big Ben and King Archer Jeron Teng. La Salle should not lose their cool and just stick to the game plan. This is Mbala’s long awaited UAAP debut and all eyes are on him. He should just let the game flow into him. The Archers are the favorites, which may bring extra pressure to perform in the big stage, so La Salle should just take it one possession at a time, one game at a time. Mbala and Teng showed that they can play well with each other during the FIL-OIL championship run and hopefully, they can bring that chemistry to the UAAP.
La Salle is fielding a full 16-man lineup for the first time since 2012. And with the mayhem defense, it would be interesting to see the rotation of Coach Aldin Ayo for the opening game. He might end up using a lot of players for this game, as we are a deep team, so there is a possibility that he uses around 12-13 players for this game, so everyone should be ready, as some of the rookies will have a baptism of fire in our opening game.
Expect this to be a good test for the Archers. FEU will not back down from a challenge, even against the heavy favorites. As long as the Archers stick to the game plan, and show the UAAP that the Mayhem defense is for real, we should be able to start the season on the right foot. ANIMO LA SALLE!