Archers Upend Ateneo, Make the Playoffs
Facing elimination from the Filoil tournament, the Green Archers played their best game yet this pre-season to outsteady Ateneo, 66-61 at the Arena today. The Archers led most of the way in fashioning a feel good win over their greatest rivals in a game they needed to win or be ousted.
The victory allowed La Salle to qualify for the knockout quarterfinals after UST lost to San Beda in an earlier game. However, the win could prove to be costly, as prized rookie forward Norbert Torres injured his elbow after he tangled with Ateneo center Golla. Torres lay grimacing on the court for a few minutes before he could be helped up, raising fears of a serious injury that could affect his participation in the UAAP. Unconfirmed reports we received after the game cited a dislocated elbow, an injury which could sideline him for a couple of weeks but which is not considered serious enough to keep him from playing in the UAAP.
LA Revilla used this game to signal his return after a 2-year break, as he ably quarterbacked the Archer offense and shackled his counterpart Monfort on the other end. His timely hits in the endgame kept the Archers in front after repeated Ateneo rallies kept the game close. Two Revilla triples restored the Archer lead, 55-50, after Ateneo momentarily grabbed it at 49-50, and it was his consecutive layups that broke a 61-all deadlock and gave us the lead for good. His great all-around game led to his being named as Player of the Game, and his final stats – 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists did not reflect his impact on the game. In fact, the diminutive LA even hauled down more rebounds (6) than the Ateneo 7-foot center Greg Slaughter, who only manged 5 boards.
La Salle’s active defense neutralized Ateneo’s celebrated rookies Slaughter and Ravena, holding them down to a total of 12 points. Slaughter, was expected to dominate the smaller Archer bigs, but his defenders played physical by bodying up on him whenever he attempted to back into the paint. Arnold Van Opstal, Norbert Torres, and Papot Paredes took turns guarding Slaughter, and the tag-team harassment limited his effectiveness and playing time to just 12 minutes. Slaughter’s presence on the court slowed down the Ateneo offense as they repeatedly tried to dump the ball into the post, with little effect. Ravena was closely guarded by Simon and Luigi, and never got untracked enough to make a difference, his 10 points coming mainly from the open court while being limited to only 6 attempts.
The pressure defense, which has been termed as obsolete by some, was never fully solved by the Ateneo pressbreak, and it caused Ateneo to resort to long crosscourt passes which occasionally went awry, contributing to Ateneo’s 19 turnovers. Our players parlayed these miscues into 14 points while taking care of the ball and limiting our own turnovers to just 10. While our internal defense logged only 3 blocks , our frontliners led by Norbert and Papot altered several shots of Blue Eagles who managed to penetrate the perimeter defense. The active Archer defense forced the usually reliable Ateneo shooters into a 21/56 (38%) clip from the field.
We outrebounded Ateneo, 45-39, giving us a 14-3 edge in 2nd chance points. Norbert did a yeoman’s job on the boards, pulling down 10, backed by Arnold Van Opstal and LA who had 6 each. The better rebounding performance gave the Archers more possessions and allowed us more attempts from the field, 72, of which we made 26 for 36%. Coach Dindo field in 14 players, and only Oda Tampus failed to score.
After taking the lead, 5-4, at the 4:53 mark of the first quarter, the Archers grabbed the initiative and even led by 12, 32-20 and 34-22 before settling into a 36-31 halftime advantage. Ateneo fought back in the 3rd quarter to close to within 1 after 3 quarters at 49-48 on an improbable Austria trey at the buzzer.
Ateneo briefly retook the lead at the start of the 4th quarter on 2 Chua free throws, 49-50, and it was while jockeying for the possible rebound on his second foul shot that Golla hooked the elbow of Torres, causing Torres to fall to the floor writhing in pain. Torres made his way to the locker room on his own, and when the game resumed, LA Revilla personally took charge, hitting consecutive triples that restored the lead, 55-50. LA then orchestrated another pick-and-roll with Yutien which Yutien converted, 57-50. Ateneo threatened at 58-57 as Ravena scored 4 points, but an Atkins catch-and-shoot trey gave us some breathing room, 61-57. Salva hit 2 jumpters to tie it at 61-all before LA shook his defender Monfort, cut into the lane and Jovet found him for a wide open layup, 63-61 with 1:09 left. A Ravena miss was followed by a Sam Marata miss. On the rebound, Yutien tipped the ball to LA with 35 seconds left. LA loitered in the perimeter, closely watched by Monfort, before driving to his left to leave Monfort behind, and he threw up a left-handed layup to clinch it, 65-61 with 16 seconds left.
Timeout Ateneo. The ball went to Long, who drove but found 2 Archer defenders in front of him forcing Long to kick the ball out a teammate on the perimeter. However, the Archers had anticipated the play, and the pass was intercepted by Simon, who was fouled and sank 1/2 free throws for the final score.
The Blue Eagles badly missed last year’s key players Salamat, Buenafe, and dela Cruz, and it showed in their shaky play in the endgame. The Eagles went to Salva on the outside, and he hit several long shots to prevent the Archers from pulling away. The Ateneo guards failed to make a major impact with Long, Monfort, and Austria limited to 20 points.
Free throw woes continued to plague the Archers, with the team accuracy regressing after our players got to the foul line 22 times but missed 12 for only 45%. If the Archers had made even half of their misses, the game would not have been as close. The ft malaise is getting to be a serious problem which must be solved in time for the UAAP, otherwise the Archers cannot expect to go deep into the playoffs.
The win gives our team an improbable 2 consecutive wins over Ateneo, counting their exhibition game in the Middle East during the summer. The Archers play FEU on Monday, June 7 at 4pm, as the Filoil tournament enters the knockout phase.
DLSU 66 – Revilla 12, Marata 10, de la Paz 9, Atkins 8, Andrada 5, Paredes 5, Torres 4, Mendoza 4, Van Opstal 3, Villanueva 2, Gotladera 2, Vosotros 1, Webb 1, Tampus 0
Ateneo 61 – Salva 18, Ravena 10, Long 7, Monfort 7, Chua 7, Austria 6, Tiongson 4, Slaughter 2, Golla 0, Gonzaga 0, Sumalinog 0, Erram 0
Quarter scoring: 17-10, 36-31, 49-48, 66-61