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Are the Archers beginning to feel the effect of 2006?

The Green Archers are currently on a slump in the preseason and lately, the team has been getting a lot of flak from avid followers online. With two consecutive blowout losses after a two-week training stint abroad, many are beginning to doubt the team’s chances to improve on their low finish last season. Readers who post their respective take on the situation often cite the Archer’s lack of height, experience and sometimes, even their drive to win.

Going through the comments, I can’t agree more with one reader who said that people don’t seem to realize that the suspension in 2006 is now hurting the team. One might ask how a year out of the league can hurt the team today especially that they even won the title upon their return. It seems to be a case of a delayed reaction, something which no one could have foreseen after our successful return.

A year off from the UAAP is nothing especially if your team is still strong. That was the case in 2007 when the Green Archers still had their court-savvy, championship-tested players still at the helm. With these veterans’ getting extended eligibility, La Salle remained competitive for the first two seasons after the suspension.

The aftermath was not felt immediately but it sure seems to be now. If we look closely, the suspension did have its pluses in the short term but the tradeoff in the long run affected the overall balance of the team today.

It was in the area of leadership that the team was most affected, although it took a while for the problem to surface. In the past, it took at least 2 years for leaders-in-waiting to gain enough experience and confidence under the mentorship of veterans before they could assume the role of team leader. Players like Joseph Yeo, Macmac Cardona, and Junjun Cabatu played in the shadows of more experienced teammates before they could effectively act as coaches-on-the-floor in their final playing years. While they were gifted and showed their potential in their early years, they did not lead until they had accumulated enough experience and judgment to gain the trust of their fellow Archers.

In 2007 when we returned from suspension, we had Ty and Cholo who stayed an additional year to lead the team to the championship. The following year, the mantle of leadership was inherited by JV and Rico, and they steered the team to a second place finish. However, with no acting as their understudies, last year saw the Archers unable to keep their in-game focus when the going got tough.

This year, there are no role models or leaders for our players to emulate or learn from. It’s almost like the more senior players have to learn how to be leaders all from scratch. We have gifted players, but talent or experience does not necessarily translate to leadership. Leaders naturally want to lead, but they must learn leadership from those who have been leaders, what works and what doesn’t, what to do and what not to do.

The extended eligibility I feel was a loss for the young players as they had limited time to gain more experience. If there was no suspension, the smooth passing of the torch that La Salle seem to have always enjoyed would have been maintained.

Recruitment also suffered during the suspension as the team was not able to enlist the services of top HS players who wanted to play in the UAAP immediately. It was also the same case the following year because there were not so many open slots available. If there was no suspension, we could have had a significant number of seniors playing today. The imbalance in the experience level has manifested itself in the uncertainty in the way the team plays today, because the majority of the team is composed of rookies, sophomores, and a few juniors.

The Green Archers what we now see I feel is the end-result of the suspension; a classic example of a veteran-deprived team whose only two seniors have only 3 years of UAAP experience.

Yes it’s just one year out of the UAAP but now you can see the impact that this supposedly short 1-year hiatus had 4 years after it was forced on the team.