Well actually, the road for the Green Archers’ first win this UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament is not getting any easier. The Green Archers’ next opponent on Wednesday is the fluid National University Bulldogs and if you will look forward to the calendar, DLSU will face another formidable squad in the University of the East Red Warriors on Sunday.
Keys to the Game for DLSU:
- Defense – Giving up 82 and 97 points in the past two games says it all. If DLSU really wants to kickstart this season and win games, the staple will have to start on defense. There is no doubt that the team can score, the Green Archers scored 77 and 86 points respectively in the first two games this season which shows its scoring capabilities. But if the team will not lock down any of its opponent on defense, it will be difficult to win games this season. NU is also another team who loves to spread out its scoring among Gelo Alolino, Troy Rosario (whom I think improved a lot since playing his natural position this year which is the power forward position), and Alfred Aroga. NU is not a predictable team anymore this season and it will be interesting to see what type of defensive schemes the Green Archers will have in store for the Bulldogs on Wednesday. I personally consider Gelo Alolino as their main weapon on offense but it can be possible once again that the offense will start first from either Rosario or Aroga then in the second half, Alolino will have the green light to take over.
- Hustle and Nose for the Ball – This is what I noticed in the past two games. It seems that La Salle’s opponents were a step faster to get the 50-50 balls resulting to additional possessions and scoring opportunities. I am not just talking about the offensive rebounding, this also includes defensive rebounding since it also gives the opponent possessions and a chance for them to score. Some may say that the bounce is not really going La Salle’s way but for me, it is all about how much you want it, it is not about where the ball bounces. It seems like the energy has been missing for the team in the past two games. It is not about missing the whole game, but there were instances where the intensity drops down then all of a sudden, the opponents will strike hard and then the team will not be able to recover from it anymore. It is important to carry on that type of energy and intensity for the rest of the game since every school wants to have that distinction of beating the defending champions, more so, winning the championship and taking it away from Taft Avenue.
What to expect from NU?
- Physical style of play – NU has the height and physicality to match DLSU’s front line so going back to my hustle point earlier, if the Green Archers will not match the physicality and energy of NU, this could be another line in the loss column for the defending champions. Aroga, Rosario, Khobuntin, Perez, and Neypes are all athletic and physical front court players that can give the Green Archers all sorts of problems, not just in the rebounding department but in the overall defensive scheme of things which will make it difficult for DLSU to score baskets on Wednesday.
- Disruptive defense – NU is still a long, athletic team which can give problems on defense despite the absence of Mbe and Parks. I still feel that NU has a complete team and has become more dangerous this season because it is not just about Bobby Ray Parks anymore. Alolino, Diputado, and Javelona are all tall guards along with the tall front line which can give Coach Eric Altamirano flexibility on whatever he wants to do on defense, both man and zone coverage. I can’t wait to see if Coach Eric will have double teams prepared for Arnold and Norbert with Aroga, with his equally tall and physical presence, patrolling the paint for the Bulldogs.
- Spread offense – You may think this is again about the X and O wherein the floor has been spread out for the dribble drive penetration to start the offense and take it from there but what I am trying to say here is that the distribution of offense for NU does not lie on one player anymore. It all starts on Gelo Alolino, whom I think has been given the green light to lead the offense for NU this season. It does not end on leading the scoring, which he is equally capable of doing as seen in NU’s wins over UST and UP, but also setting up the table for NU on offense. With most probably Kib and Terrence getting the playing time on the point guard position on Sunday, I would like to see putting some pressure on Alolino so that he cannot easily set that table for NU since he is the head of the snake in the NU offense. The rest depends on how DLSU will play defense on NU’s other scoring options. In the past years, we have seen Khobuntin playing his best games against La Salle and that most probably is because of his speed and quickness for his position in the power forward spot.
For the Green Archers, it is not about the X’s and O’s anymore. I mean, I know the team is working hard to prepare every game what to do on the opponents but this is now more of the intangibles like energy, intensity, and desire to get those loose balls giving the team extra possessions which can result to additional baskets. This energy, intensity, and desire can also be applied on defense. Moving faster to pick up your man assignment, communicating better inside to see the cutters, locating the shooters of the opposing team, talking where the pick will come from (pick left or pick right), and always assume that a shot is a miss are just some of them.
It is not about rocket science but getting better in the basics will always reap great dividends later on. Maybe going back to the basics and get better at it is what the Green Archers have to take a look in order to get that engine running this season. Always remember, it is not easy to win a championship in the UAAP, let alone for us at this point, winning a game. It will always be a bumpy ride but remember what they always say, “Do not avoid rough waters, sail on because calm waters won’t make a skillful sailor”. I hope everyone will partake and do their share supporting the team in these rough times because this is the time the team they needs our prayers and support.
Whatever happens every game, all I can say is this is my team and it will always be Animo La Salle.