Go Archers -

Pregame: Green Archers vs Blue Eagles Round 2

Can the Green Archers clip the Blue Eagle’s wings for a second straight time this season? Possibly, but it will be harder this time. During their first round encounter, the heavily-favored Ateneo team was left flabbergasted when they saw their seemingly large 9-point margin disappear in a matter of 3 minutes. Yes, it appeared to be a won game already for them but La Salle snatched it away at the last minute.
All livid and aching for some payback, expect the defending champions to stamp their class over our young team right from the onset of the game. La Salle has to be physically and mentally prepared as they will be in for a tough 40-minute grind this coming Sunday.

What should the Green Archers not do?
Be Overexcited – Playing in front of thousands of rabid fans as well as being seen by millions in television, it seems like the whole world is watching your every move. In a game where the stakes are high, there is a tendency for players to show some hesitation with the fear of being scrutinized for every possible mistake. I say just have fun, play loose out there and enjoy.

Losing their cool – Expect Ateneo to be a physical, especially on defense. They will maximize whatever advantage they have in terms of bulk and experience to the hilt in this showdown. Though the Archers have already shown a lot of poise and composure especially against the other rugged teams in the UAAP, this game brings a different atmosphere all together.

What the numbers say so far
After 9 games, it might be interesting to look at the comparative stats to see how this game might go. The UAAP has compiled the numbers of all the teams, so let’s look how the teams have performed in the different areas of the game.

The key individuals
Ateneo Coach Black has a regular 9-man rotation to which he gives an average of at least 10 minutes of playing time per game: Long (26), Salamat (25), Salva (23), Buenafe (21), Chua (19), Golla (18), Monfort (16), Escueta (14), dela Cruz (14). Coach Dindo allocates at least 10 minutes to 11 players, and most likely Gab would also have averaged that if he had been fit. Only Nico, Oda, Martin, and Aiki have been seeing an average of less than a quarter of action per game.

Ateneo ranked 2nd in points scored with an average of 72.6 ppg against the Archers’ 70.6, while on defensive end, Ateneo is #1, allowing opponents to score 62.1 ppg against our 62.8 ppg. Clearly both teams are very defensively oriented. As far as the points are concerned, the teams are roughly equal.

In terms of overall field goal shooting accuracy, Ateneo is hitting 41% of their fgs while taking less shots (235/572 attempts) than the Green Archers, who hit 38% (242/637). The Blue Eagles shot better from close range (195/427 for 46%) compared to La Salle (195/471 or 41%). From the long court, however, our team was slightly more accurate, 47/166 for 28.3% vs Ateneo’s 40/145 fro 27.6%. We scored more from the perimeter, 25.8 ppg against the Blue Eagles’ 22.8 ppg.

Ateneo was more active in getting fouls for free throws, and they shot better (#1 in free throw accuracy) from the line (143/199 – 72 %) against our 104/177 (59%); we are ranked 7th in that area. We gave up 73 points by way of missed foul shots – if you think about it, that’s a bit more than our average score for a game. Look at it another way – and if we had only been as accurate as Ateneo’s 72%, we would have scored an additional 23 points in our 9 games so far, probably would have won one or more of the 3 games we lost (by a total of 10 points). Games are truly won or lost at the foul line.

On the other hand, we scored more points in the paint, averaging 36.2 per game against Ateneo’s 30.9, showing that our frontline, although undersized, is competitive.

In the first round, we held Ateneo to 33% shooting from the field, way below their average, while we shot at the same clip, and we outperformed them from the foul line, 23/33=70% against their 16/26=62%.

None of our players averages in double figures; our top scorers are Simon, Sam, Maui, Yutien, and Joshua. Ateneo has 3 players averaging more than 10 points: Chua, Salamat, and Salva.

3Point FG accuracy – our most accurate shooters are Gab, Sam, Simon, Joel, and Almond, who collectively average over 30%. Only 5 Blue Eagles have hit from the trifecta area (Long-11/32, Monfort-15/35, Salamat-8/31, Tiongslo-5/10, and Salva (1/3) – they average 35%. It will be interesting to allow Austria (0/5), Buenafe (0/17!!!), and Gonzaga (0/3) to shoot continue to from afar.

2Point FG accuracy – If we can get the ball to Yutien, Nico, Jovet, Papot, Maui, and Almond, chances are that they will convert their shots, since the poorest shooter in this group is Almond who hits 34% of his shots. Ateneo’s most accurate shooters are Chua (35/59), dela Cruz (21/37), Golla (14/27), Buenafe (21/43), Salva (38/82), and Tiongson (6/13). All of these Blue Eagles are inside operators, so if they can be kept away from the paint, their shooting will probably suffer.

Free throw shooting – note to the Green Archers: don’t foul the Blue Eagles. Austria, Buenafe, Chua, Monfort, Salamat, and Salva all hit 70% or more of their shots. On our side, I’d like Yutien, Gab, and Almond to take our foul shots – they hit at least 70% also.

Both teams put a premium on defense, and are ranked #1 and 2 in holding down the opponents’ field goal accuracy. Ateneo is #1 at defending the 2pointer, keeping opponents to 36.1% shooting while we are #2 at 40.5%. Defending farther out is La Salle’s specialty – opponents hit only 22% of their 3point attempts and are able to score only an average of 19 perimeter points against us. In comparison, Ateneo’s opponents manage to hit 29% of their rainbow shots and are able to score 27 perimeter points against the Blue Eagles.

For an undersized team, the Archers surprisingly led the league in rebounds with an average of 47 per game. Ateneo is #3 with 43 per game. We had 167 offensive rebounds against their 117, but they were better at the defensive end with 271 versus our 257. In our first game against them, the rebounding was even, 45-44.

Ateneo is slightly better at keeping opponents away from the boards, giving up 41.8 rebounds to the opponent (#5) while we are #6 with the 44.7 rebounds we allow the opponents to pull down.

Ateneo has no dominant rebounder. Despite their height advantage, they share the load among Chua, Golla, Salva, Buenafe, and Long, who all average at least 4 rebounds per game. It will be a good idea to box these guys out all the time. Their best offensive rebounder is Chua. Maui, Yutien, Jovet are our usual reliables on the boards, assisted by Almond and Simon.

Ateneo is #1 in assists with 18.3 per game, while we’re #2 at 16.1. Both teams are equally effective at disrupting the offense of the opponents,; Ateneo allows the opponents to compile an average of 12.3 assists (#2) against our 12.8 per game (#3). In our first encounter, the assist numbers were more or less equal, 17-16.

Buenafe, Long, and Salamat are the chief playmakers of Ateneo, averaging around 4 assists among themselves. It is their game that our guards must disrupt, cut off the passing lanes and keep the pressure on them all the time. Our guards drive our unselfish offense, led by Simon, Joel, Luigi, Sam, and Nico.

Ateneo tops the league in steals with 7.1 per game, while we’re not far behind at 6.3 (#3). On the other end, however, we allow the opponents to steal the ball 5.6 times a game (5) while Ateneo is a run higher at 4.7 (#4). In our game against them, Ateneo stole the ball 9 times while we repaid the favor 7 times.

Salamat has a deserved reputation as a ball thief, getting the ball away from his man around 3 times a game. Chua has active hands also, and manages to steal the ball twice in a game. On our side, Luigi, Joel and Maui also average 2 turnovers a game, so they should be a bit more careful with the ball.

Blocked shots
Ateneo is tied for #2 with around 4.4 blocks per game, while we’re just a step behind at 4.1 per game. On the other end, our players get blocked an average of 5 times a game (#7) while Ateneo is just slightly better at 4.2 (#6). Our first game saw our players block 4 shots, while Ateneo blocked 3 of our shots.

The Green Archers’ pressure defense is tops in forcing opponents to turn over the ball 22 times a game. Ateneo is #3 at 18.8 per game. On the offensive end, however, we give the ball away an average of 18.3 times a game (#5) while Ateneo is slightly better at 15.1 per game (#4).
Buenafe, Salamat, Long and Salva cough up the ball around twice per game among themselves, so it will be a good idea to keep the pressure on them.

The bottom line
And what should the Green Archers do? Simply play with a lot heart. They have already overachieved by surpassing their 2009 record anything beyond that will just make this season even more special.
So again, have fun, play loose, enjoy and just be cool. We’re still the underdogs here so the pressure is still on them to avoid another embarrassing setback.