Late-game woes results in another tough loss for La Salle

For the second straight game, the Archers received yet another heartbreaker.

From Arnold Van Opstal’s thunderous slam to Luigi De La Paz’s dagger buckets, the green shirts went on a frenzy with the smell of victory near at hand. Unfortunately, the celebration faded and things went on a downward spiral.

During their defeat at the hands of the league-leading FEU Tamaraws, La Salle was on its way to stain their unblemished record but a collapse and free throw bricks followed and eventually cost them a much-needed win.

Fast forward to yesterday’s game, it was the same script all over again as it was yet another tough loss to swallow after their 85-83 setback against the up and coming UE Red Warriors.

This loss gives La Salle with a 2-3 record.

By the numbers

Being one of the top-caliber rebounding teams in the league, the Green Archers got outrebounded by the Red Warriors with a 47-38 difference. UE’s Charles Mammie played to his strengths by grabbing 16 big rebounds. Van Opstal, despite playing lesser minutes due to foul trouble, led the team with 9 boards while fellow big man Norbert Torres added 7 rebounds. In addition, Jason Perkins had 5 rebounds.

Moving on, the Archers shared the ball with ease against the Red Warriors after dishing out 18 assists as a team compared to UE’s 13. Thomas Torres tallied in a game-high 8 assists while Jeron Teng had 5.

When it comes to the defensive side, the team also had more blocked shots with La Salle having 5 rejections compared to UE’s lone block. Teng had the most number of swats with 3 while Thomas Torres and Perkins had one apiece.

La Salle also shot better from the field after making 36 out of 77 attempts leading to 46.8 shooting clip compared to UE’s 40.8 percent. In addition, the Green Archers also committed lesser turnovers with 13-17 difference.

What went wrong?

Just like in their previous game against FEU, La Salle played good basketball for around 38 minutes. And after that, the team suddenly collapses after committing some untimely mistakes which eventually led to heartbreak defeats

The team tends to jack up some questionable shots and they often rush in setting their plays. Instead of moving the ball and making the extra pass, the offense suddenly stalls which eventually leads to forced shots.

But perhaps the waterloo for this team will be its inconsistent performance from the free throw line. As noted by the coaching staff, the players hit their freebies at ease with practice but when they play against other teams, the results are far from satisfactory.

In this game, La Salle shot poorly from the line with 3 out of 11 shooting leading to a 27.3 clip compared to UE’s 87.5 percent performance. If only the team hit their freebies at a consistent rate, then they have higher chances of winning.

The only thing needed for the team to improve in this department will be their mental toughness along with their focus and concentration in hitting those shots. No more, no less.

Positive sights

Even though the team suffered a defeat, there are some points to look upon for the upcoming games.

During the second quarter, Matt Salem finally got his first taste of UAAP action. He immediately responded back with two consecutive outside shots which definitely caught the Red Warriors by surprise.

Morever, Salem gives La Salle a versatile offensive attack that it could capitalize on since he is a typical stretch four that can give the team an inside-outside attack as evidenced by his smooth touch from downtown along with his rebounding ability.

Aside from Salem, Oda Tampus also played extended minutes in this game. At some points in the game, Tampus displayed on how he efficient he could be when it comes to defending explosive perimeter players as he stepped and made life tough for Roi Sumang.

Lastly, Van Opstal continues to show his vastly improved game. He gives La Salle a dominating presence inside the paint with his length, athleticism and series of post moves. A breakout year from this kid will certainly push the Archers even further.

Moving on

Forget the loss and move on, take it one game at a time. Focus and concentrate to get the job done.

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