La Salle vs UST Pregame Primer: Twice-to-Beat or Leave It!
For tomorrow’s game versus the Growling Tigers of the University of Santo Tomas, I am putting more emphasis on the importance of this game in La Salle’s Final Four implications rather than sweeping the second round. Yes, a sweep of the second round of the eliminations stage is a good achievement but this will not be that much important if let’s say, the team will still miss the Final Four or other not-so-good overall implications in the final standings in the elimination round.
Expect a totally different game from both teams tomorrow as first, UST is still adjusting or should I say, still keeps on adjusting every game depending on how Coach Pido will field in Jeric Teng in the game. I am expecting that Coach Pido will field Jeric tomorrow since the game is also important for their own Final Four hopes although the twice to beat advantage is not anymore within their reach. Back in the first round encounter, Jeric poured in his scoring prowess over La Salle’s shooting guards anywhere in the field, finishing the game with 23 points.
I am not sure if Jeric will be able to replicate those numbers again in tomorrow’s game. Yes, I do not doubt Jeric’s scoring abilities and talents but with his shoulder injury, I am not sure if he is 100% right now to fully force everything his way. I still feel that other Tigers should contribute and help Jeric in scoring like Clark Bautista, Kevin Ferrer, Aljon Mariano, and Karim Abdul. Clark Bautista has been struggling of late, maybe because he is also tasked to play the point guard position and set the table rather than just to worry his scoring from the outside.
In the other UST games, Ed Daquioag was also seen playing the point guard position but overall, UST’s table setting for offense was not the same as last year having a steady, reliable Jeric Fortuna that can calm down his troops and set his teammates to the perfect spots on the floor for scoring opportunities. The UST’s “committee” point guards’ task is to dribble down the ball across the half court line and then the designated scorers will get the ball from there and set it up for scoring opportunities.
With this, I expect to see La Salle’s point guards putting pressure on Daquioag and Bautista tomorrow to make life difficult for UST to set up its plays. Jeric Teng or Aljon Mariano could also be seen as “committee” point guards tomorrow in case needed once La Salle puts up that backcourt pressure, which for me is important to create easy baskets in transition for the Green Archers. La Salle’s gap on defense will still be possibly the Jeric Teng-Almond Vosotros match up. Although I am also seeing Almond guarding Daquioag at times while Jeron matching up with his older brother on defense.
La Salle’s big men will also be challenged and I am hoping the Green Archers will not have to resort double-teaming Karim Abdul down low to keep other scorers in check on the UST side. Abdul, if in his right frame of mind (sometimes I see him really play disinterested basketball for UST), is a good scorer at the post with his crafty footwork and has the range to shoot it all the way from the three-ball region. Personally, I would rather let Karim shoot from the outside (but of course, do not forget to challenge it always) rather than making his presence felt in the paint.
Aljon Mariano and Jeric Teng can also post up especially Jeric, who has perfected his turnaround jumper from the low block. Jeric has lots of moves in his arsenal once at the post so it is important to take away his comfort zone and start his move from the perimeter so that help defense can come a little bit earlier and not too deep if Jeric’s in the post. Mariano, personally, is a more tricky scorer than Jeric so hopefully, the same thing, if La Salle’s individual defense holds up enough for the help defense to rotate and recover, I do not see any problems on La Salle stopping UST tomorrow.
One perfect silver lining though for the Green Archers was back in the first round opening day encounter, the rotations used by the coaching staff was way different from the one being used and utilized in the second round. Despite with the short rotation, La Salle was able to hang tough with UST, forced the overtime session, and lost by just five points. Jason Perkins was not yet comfortable in his game back then and for me, he will be the difference maker again tomorrow for the Green Archers.
Opposing teams are having difficulty matching up with Taft’s Hefty Lefty simply because he can score at the post, via jumpers or bumping the defender out until it gets tired for an easy basket, he can screen and roll or screen and pop and he is very deceiving, especially in his physical frame. One may think that he is not quick and will not be able to follow laterally his man on defense but in the first round encounter, Perkins was the man who limited Jeric Teng’s scoring production in the fourth quarter. If he will have a good game on both ends tomorrow, it will be a very big plus for La Salle winning the ball game.
Last Sunday against NU, Almond was heavily limited in scoring production because he was guarded by a taller and athletic Bobby Ray Parks. But Jeron Teng was there to fill up the scoring void and while NU’s defense focused on Almond, Jeron, relentlessly attacked NU defense in the paint with his upper body strength, plus of course, his clutch shooting free throws. How can this be related tomorrow? It will be another pick your poison match possibly for UST.
I do not see Kevin Ferrer guarding Almond at any point in the game, except of course, if there will be switches on defense in the pick and roll. So with a smaller guard on defense, Almond can possibly regain back his offensive groove to help the Green Archers winning its 10th game for the season. I am also hoping that Arnold and Norbert can force UST to play its back up centers by making Abdul work hard on defense. Paulo Pe may be tasked to make Perkins busy on offense, so if Pe will be tasked to play center, it will be relatively much easier for Arnold or Norbert to get themselves asserted inside the shaded lane to open up opportunities for the La Salle guards to get perimeter baskets.
Guys, it may seem to be looking good on paper but definitely, it will be a one tough, close game tomorrow for both these teams. The chess match on both sides will be very interesting to see since tomorrow’s game will be very, very important for both teams. Bottom line, La Salle has to get an advantage by outplaying their backcourt, especially in the point guard position since UST can ably match up from the shooting guard up to the center positions. In particular, UST has interchangeable players too, just like FEU from the shooting guard to the power forward spots in the game.
I hope to see the same energy and support from the De La Salle community in tomorrow’s game as we are moving closer to the home stretch and the team’s initial target this season, which is to make the Final Four.
Making the Final Four is good but the door has been presented to the Green Archers in at least getting a precious twice to beat advantage in the Final Four so the team will definitely go for it.
We can help further by boosting and cheering them, which will push them harder in winning the remaining games left for a possible championship run this UAAP Season 76 senior’s basketball competitions.
Play Like There’s No Tomorrow!