Postscript to the La Salle-Ateneo Game 8/16

Well Archers. If you think this week was tough, the real challenge still lies ahead of us. We are approaching our crucial games. The loss to Adamson was actually more important to us that the loss last Sunday, because UE won against Adamson. Our game against UE now becomes a must win for us to catch up with them. Look at the standings. If you notice, the field is bunched up into three (the front runners Ateneo and FEU with identical 7-1 records), the middle of the field (UE 5-4, UST 4-4, and La Salle 4-5), and the tailenders (UP and NU 2-6, and Adamson 2-7).

It’s been said that 8 wins will get us to the final 4. The first crucial tiff is UP on Saturday. With our morale at an all time low following those 3 successive losses, UP might have a chance at upending our Archers. If we lose to UP, we lose ground to the third group, just half a game ahead of them; our only hope then is to sweep the remaining games for an 8-6 record, or lose one more to any team and win the rest for a 7-7 record). Two more losses and we are virtually out of the running this year.

This is a daunting task. We still have to play UE, UST, and FEU, all legitimate final 4 contenders. How’d we get here? Things have just not fallen at the proper places and at the right times. Against Ateneo last Sunday, of our veterans, only Peejay and Maui showed up. Webb scored half of what he scored last Sunday but you couldn’t really ask for another monster game from him after Ateneo scouted him in detail. Our young recruits failed to make an impact.

James Mangahas continues to be a puzzle to many. Historically, he has not played well against Ateneo because of their post defenders like Nonoy Baclao. James is a finesse player who takes floaters or jumpers but does not bang bodies inside, and against a post blocker like Baclao, this doesn’t work. In contrast, James usually does well against Adamson and UST because of their porous defense and the absence of a big shot-blocking threat.

Against Ateneo, our point guard woes continued to show. Our lack of a true pg to backstop Simon was telling, because Salamat again managed to steal the ball from our players.  How many times did Ateneo drive and draw? How many times was our zone broken by quick passing to an open man who more often than not made the long shot?

Our shot selection is another issue. Sam Marata’s career in the UAAP so far has been nothing more than three point shooting. In fact, all his field goals are three point shots. If he learns to drive to the basket with authority, he will be next to impossible to stop. Arvie Bringas also had bad shot selection in that game, opting to just take outside shots in this game. James struggled to get a shot off at all. Bader missed almost everything he hoisted. Sam was limited to just a handful of attempts.

All these are slowly being learned by our young players. We might feel bad about the results of the last few games, but no one feels worse than our young players. Sometimes, maturity comes at a price, and perhaps this is their baptism of fire.

So Archers, we STILL have a chance at it this year. If it doesn’t happen, we have a BETTER chance next year. If it still doesn’t happen, we have an even BETTER chance in 2011, when we celebrate our Centennial year. By then, most of these young-uns will no longer be young-uns, but grizzled veterans who will give their opponents a hell of a time. And we’ll finally have Norbert Torres in our lineup.

Make it known to the team that your support is wholehearted, no matter what the results are going to be in the coming weeks. Make it known to them that their development is forthcoming and just like good medicine, it always tastes bitter at first. Make it known to them that our once reliable veterans of past teams did not become superstars until later in their playing careers.


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