Go Archers -

Dull Arrows?

A number of Lasallians in the community are alarmed with the rut the De La Salle Green Archers are experiencing right now. Well, when was the last time you heard they went on a five-game losing streak?

The slump started with a 73-74 squeaker against Lyceum of the Philippines University-Manila on May 22 in the Nike Summer League. This was followed by another heartbreaker against Far Eastern University also in the NSL.

To make matters worse were two routs courtesy of San Sebastian College-Recoletos and Adamson University in the FilOil-Flying V Preseason Manny V. Pangilinan Cup last week. Just yesterday, the Archers dropped out of the NSL for good after a double overtime loss to the Pirates.

Granted it is a running tally of the two preseason leagues they are participating in, still it is a cause for concern. Here are some factors which I consider are key points in the Green Archers’ recent fall in performance.

Fatigue. After they returned from their training camp in Chicago, this was being pointed out as culprit number one as the team adjusted from the time difference and the weather. But that could not be totally the case since the Archers won their first two games back albeit showing some sluggishness, especially now that they have been already in the country for almost three weeks.

Some say it is because they were playing games in almost near succession having to make up from the backlog they accumulated that the Archers are burning themselves out early. This now leads us to the next point.

Scheduling. From their first week back, they played three games in the NSL, winning two. They were supposed to face University of the East in the FilOil-Flying V tourney a day after losing to Lyceum in the NSL.

Somewhat of a providence, UE requested to postpone the game since the core of the team will also play on the same day for Cobra Energy in the PBL. However, that meant a back-to-back today.

If they have won in the knockout match against the Pirates, it would be four games straight capped by Colegio de San Juan de Letran on Friday. One would need NBA-level conditioning to be able to play consistently four days straight.

Then there was this snafu in the FEU game where team management was not aware that the match was moved to an earlier time.

But this would be just a cop out since almost all teams which are participating in at least two leagues would go through these stretches in their schedules, not counting the players who are pulling off double or triple duty for the National Team and in the PBL.

Lack of focus. Some quarters claim that since classes already started, the players’ attention has been divided between hitting the books and pounding the hardcourt and there was little transition in between. It was like they were playing basketball the whole summer then here comes their academic load out in the corner.

And I say, tell that to Mapua Institute of Technology which has a quarterly academic calendar. But I digress.

There is no point to this since none of our players have commitments other than to De La Salle.

Lack of overall effort. Considering how the schedule of the remaining games panned out, there is this little devil in me who is saying that the Archers are pacing themselves so that they do not totally burn themselves out. Their lackluster start against the Stags attests to that. The defense and the energy were not there. It was as if they were just running around to get it over and done with.

Which I quickly counter with the notion that the Archers never play just to compete and they always exert enough effort to at least go for the win and lose, not because they slacked off but because the other team just worked harder.

Feeling out period. Granted the team is still adjusting playing without its top scorer and top rebounder, the core has been practicing together for months now. Maybe they are still looking for the next leader who will step up or maybe they are still determining who will replace JVee Casio as the go-to guy. Or MAYBE the players are feeling the pressure as the competition for roster slots are in its tightest in years as a bumper crop of greenhorns eager to see action.

However, this is also true for almost all teams which are going through a transition, figuring out their rotation and whatever they are experimenting on.

Experimentation. If you have this much ammunition, you would want to find out what works best and maximize that. This is the quandary head coach Franz Pumaren is going through right now.

This was evident when they went to Maui Villanueva in the post in successive possessions against Lyceum-Manila. There were times when some players would go DNP-CD just because.

Going back to what I have said in the previous point, this is par for the course for almost everyone.

Endgame poise. In connection to the two previous points, there is an apparent vacuum on who would step up in the clutch. I have noticed that different players have topscored for the team, which is good in the team concept but sometimes a hole in the wall in the endgame.

Some supporters are clamoring that the veterans need to step up and deliver. Not that I am discounting the abilities of the older guys, but maybe the younger ones have a stronger fortitude when it comes to pressure packed situations.

We already have had players like those in the mold of Casio and Renren Ritualo who gave us memorable performances even if they were just rookies. And despite getting blocked by Larry Fonacier twice, then sophomore Mark Cardona showed what true grit is when he went for the shot in that game.

With every close shave the Archers encounter this preseason, it is a peg in the experience bank for the young ones and should be a driving motivation for the vets to step up and stand out.

It is hard to pinpoint what is actually bothering the green and white crew since I basically refuted myself in every point I made. The key to remember here is that a combination of all of these factors COULD BE the reason for the losing streak but they are not necessarily the only causes for all we know.

The light at the end of the tunnel in all of this is that it is still the preseason and the real war does not begin more than a month from now. That is ample time to make adjustments, fix whatever needs fixing, and at the same time, sharpen those dull arrows.