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Green Archers Fall to FEU in Quarterfinals

Two days after downing Ateneo to take the last playoff slot, the Green Archers bowed out of the Fil-oil tournament, losing to FEU in the quarterfinals, 68-73 in a hard-fought encounter. The Archers showed flashes of their ability to compete with the best teams, battling FEU on even terms in stretches, but were unable to maintain that level of play throughout the game.

The Archers blew hot and cold, sandwiching the cold-shooting middle quarters with a hot start in the first quarter and a blazing rally in the last 4 minutes, but ultimately fell short. The absence of forward Norbert Torres was acutely felt in the rebounding department, as the taller and heftier Tamaraws hammered the Archers, 50-38 on the boards. The Archers defense held FEU to only 36% shooting from the field, missing 42 of their 66 attempts, but the Tamaraws were able to pull down 21 of those misses which they turned into 10 second chance points. The rebounding disparity also gave FEU additional possessions which allowed them 11 more attempts.

Last year’s MVP RR Garcia waxed hot the entire game, hitting 3pointers from all angles to finish with 30 points. Aldrech Ramos showed the fruits of his stint with the Smart Gilas national team, scoring 12 points even as he and Noundou combined to pull down 24 rebounds.

The Archers had a good start in the first quarter behind the active work in the paint of Arnold Van Opstal and Jovet Mendoza who together scored 9 out of the Archers’ first 14 points. Aggressive defending and sharp passing allowed the Archers to take a 20-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.

However, FEU increased the pace of the game in the second quarter and turned up their physical defense, causing some confusion in the Archer ranks and resulting in poor movement, faulty shot making, and turnovers. The Archers managed only 5 points even as FEU scored 18, fuelled by 7 fastbreak points, to take the lead at the half, 25-31.

The 3rd quarter saw more of the same, with FEU’s guards lighting it up from afar to help FEU score 22 points in the quarter. Even though the Tams were able to widen the gap to 13, 40-53 at the end of the 3rd, the Archers never gave up. They continued to attack, and were able to get to the foul line, but flubbed most of their attempts in the quarter.

The Archers finally regained their bearings in the 4th to score 28 in the quarter. Jovet, undersized compared to the FEU bigs, manfully battled in the paint to score in the paint, and got to the foul line 13 times, missing only once.

Trailing 47-60, Papot Paredes scored on a give-and-go with Sam, then Yutien scored 4 consecutive points in an unusual sequence: he made the first of two foul shots, missed the second, but rebounded his miss and scored on the put-back, was fouled, and sank the and-1 to make it 53-60.

That triggered the furious finish. After an exchange of free throws, Simon nailed a trey, which was answered by 4 FEU fts. Yutien scored under, 59-64 with 1:50 to go, but Garcia was fouled by Jovet, and Garcia sank the fts, 59-66 time down to 1:40. Jovet was fouled, made both, 61-66, then the Archers clamped down on defense to force a 24-second violation. Sam missed on a drive, but LA Revilla scored on a step-back triple, 63-66, 27 seconds to go, Romeo scored on a couple of foul shots, Yutien scored under, Garcia was fouled again and made both gift shots, 65-70, then Sam connected on his only field goal – a triple to come tantalizingly close at 68-70, time down to 10 seconds. A desperation foul sent Romeo to the line, he made the first, missed the second which was rebounded by Noundou who was fouled and made both fts for the final score, 68-73.

The Archers played well in stretches but seemed flustered at first when the game turned physical. The bigger Tams bodied up on our players inside, muscled their way into good rebounding positions, and were able to get more than their share of rebounds. The Archers adjusted late in the game, perhaps too late, but their rally just ran out of time.

With the margin only 5 points, one can’t help but rue the missed free throws (again!!!). The Archers aggressively got to the foul line and were rewarded with 32 attempts, but they missed 11 for 66%. Again, if they had made half of those misses, the game might have gone into overtime, or we could have won outright.

And so the Archers can now settle down to prepare in earnest for the UAAP. They have one month to work out the remaining kinks in their game, develop that much-needed consistency and internal fortitude, and learn how to buck a physical opponent.

The Archers have shown significant improvement in the quality of their play, in their offense, and the pressure defense still can make an impact. However, all these gains could easily be negated by their poor performance from the foul line. In the one month left before the start of the UAAP, this is the one area that can stand much improvement.

Box scores:

FEU 73 – Garcia 30, Ramos 12, Noundou 8, Romeo 8, Cawaling 6, Cruz 5, Bringas 2, Exciminiano 1, Knuttel 1, Tolomia 0, Escoto 0

DLSU 68 – Mendoza 22, Revilla 7, Van Opstal 7, Paredes 7, Atkins 6, Andrada 6, Marata 4, Vosotros 4, de la Paz 2, Sara 2, Villanueva 1, Tampus 0, Gotladera 0

Quarter scoring: 13-20, 31-25, 53-40, 73-68