Pregame: Green Archers vs Bulldogs 9/9

Norbert Torres4PM – MOA Arena
Previous Encounter: DLSU def NU 87-86 (2OT)

“Good things happen to those who work hard,” were the words of La Salle Head Coach Gee Abanilla regarding the chances of the Archers moving further up the standings shortly after nabbing their seventh win against the UP Fighting Maroons.

But come Sunday, his and his team’s hardworking mantra will once more be put to the test against a team that is living up to their moniker and is still chasing them in the standings with dogged determination: The NU Bulldogs.

If last Thursday’s win against the Maroons was all about regaining their confidence from a stinging setback against their arch-rivals, this Sunday’s clash against the Bulldogs will be all about cementing their place in their standings.

“This will be a tough game for both teams, but hopefully we can hurdle our next assignment” he said when asked about this upcoming game. And it most probably will, for whatever the result of their game, it will send ripples down the UAAP standings as all of the teams vying for Final Four contention jockey for position as the tournament reaches its homestretch.

The Ripple Effect (Implications of the Game)

With the UAAP Board of Representatives’ decision to replay the controversial game between the Bulldogs and Tamaraws last Sunday, La Salle’s lead over the ‘Dogs was whittled down to a half-game. (La Salle is 7-4, while NU now totes a 6-4 record).

A win by La Salle will:

  • Give them a record of 8-4, which gives them a one-and-a-half game lead over the Bulldogs (6-5)
  • Allow them to draw within a half-game of both FEU (7-3) and UST (8-3) for the three and two seeds in the semis

A loss by La Salle will:

  • Allow the Bulldogs (7-4) to grab a half-game lead over them in the standings (The Archers will fall to 7-5 if they lose on Sunday)
  • Give UST and FEU a little more separation for the three and four spots in the standings

Pregame Points

The Bulldogs’ Rebounding– La Salle has reasserted itself as one of the best rebounding teams in the UAAP, but they lost the battle of the boards to the wards of Coach Eric Altamirano, 51-61, with Emmanuel Mbe and Troy Rosario (more on him later) tag-teaming to grab 25 rebounds. 23 of the Bulldogs’ rebounds came from the offensive glass that led to 14 second chance points for the Bulldogs.  Limiting the rebounds of Mbe, Rosario, Parks, and Henri Betayene will be essential for the Archers to win the game.

Troy Rosario– He scored 14 points and added 13 rebounds the last time the teams met, and he was the recipient of Parks’ nice dish-off that allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game near the end of regulation. If the production of players such as Rosario, Gelo Alolino, Jeoff Javillonar, and Denice Villamor could be controlled by the Archers’ defense, then this will bode well for their chances of nabbing an eighth win.

The Return of LA Revilla– It was a heartrending sight to see Revilla dressed in plainclothes somberly looking on the scoreboard in the dying seconds of La Salle’s loss to Ateneo, but a glimmer of hope spread across the La Salle faithful as he was seen warming up in their game against UP. Abanilla remained hopeful about his return, but if he plays he will most likely be fielded for only a limited time.

The Renaissance of Almond Vosotros-The first game between the two teams could be considered as the match wherein Vosotros regained his confidence. He played for 29 minutes and scored 18 points (12 of which came from beyond the arc), grabbed four rebounds, and dished three assists. He had only been averaging five points in the first round, but since the start of the second round he has upped his average to 15 markers a game.

Arnold Van opstal– He may not be dropping long bombs from distance or driving with reckless abandon towards the basket, but Van opstal, like Vosotros, has seen a re-emergence since the start of the second round. More than scoring buckets, he secures important rebounds, blocks shots and bothers opponents with his presence under the shaded lane and he will definitely be needed along with the other La Salle bigs against NU’s equally-imposing frontline.

Bobby Ray Parks vs. Jeron Teng– Both players combined for 70 of the 173 total points scored by both teams, although Teng had a better outing from the field as he shot 14-of-24 as compared to Parks’ 10-of-23. Teng was shattered the record for most points scored by a rookie and was the first Archer who broke the 30-point barrier since Joseph Yeo did the same feat in 2003.

Will another scoring record come crashing down this Sunday as they engage in another shooting game that rivals an old spaghetti Western flick? That remains to be seen.

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