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Pregame Primer: Green Archers vs Fighting Maroons

Green Archers

July 3 – 2PM – MOA Arena

The Green Archers set their sights to annex their first win of the season against  the UP Fighting Maroons tomorrow. The Green Archers lost in a gut-wrenching match last Saturday to UST in overtime, 63-58 while the Fighting Maroons dropped their opening assignment to this year’s hosts, the Adamson Soaring Falcons last Sunday to the tune of 79-67.

Both teams have contrasting styles on offense since La Salle likes to dump the ball inside to Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, and to Jason Perkins to put points from the low block. UP, on the other hand, likes to score from the perimeter courtesy of former Green Archer Sam Marata.

Speaking of Sam Marata, there is another former Green Archer in the Maroon camp, JR Gallarza. Andre Paras and Mikee Reyes can also be added in the list of former La Sallians now plying their trade for the Fighting Maroons. Mikee Reyes had a big game against La Salle in Season 74. These could be the usual side plots on Wednesday aside from of course; both teams wanting to start gaining wins in their quest for final four slots and postseason play come late September.

If opening game performances will be the basis for this pre-game talk, La Salle can take advantage of UP size inside the paint. UP only has Soyud as their hulking player who can bang bodies with Norbert Torres, Van Opstal, and Perkins inside the shaded lane. For the Fighting Maroons to cover everything up, playing time from Martin Pascual can be seen along with Chris Ball, with his athleticism to cover the paint.

UP had a tough time boxing out Ingrid Sewa of Adamson in their game and this could be an area where Coach Ricky Dandan will do adjustments especially Norbert Torres, Van Opstal, and Perkins are big guys that can rebound and control that department in the game so it will be a big plus for UP if they will be able to limit La Salle to only one possession in the offensive end. It can become worse for UP if that one possession will be an inside basket for La Salle’s big men.

It will be expected that UP, as much as possible will have to deny the entry passes as other teams have been doing against the Green Archers to negate that height advantage inside the paint. This is where UP can compensate since they have pesky guards that can disrupt La Salle’s offensive sets. Asilum and Reyes have proven that they will always play physical and agile to make it tough for opposing guards to set their offense.

With this, La Salle’s offensive creativity will be time and again tested how effective they can rotate the ball enough to reach Norbert Torres, Van Opstal, and Perkins for the higher percentage baskets. In the UST game, there were still instances that La Salle committed errors putting too much pressure or too much eagerness on giving the ball inside to Norbert, Arnold, or Jason so ball rotation that will result to better positioning of the big men inside will always be crucial for La Salle’s offense.

Scoring from the perimeter will be helpful for the Green Archers so that Norbert, Arnold, and Jason will have all the time in the world to get the proper spacing for their inside moves. This is not just hitting or making the three-ball but more importantly, making the mid-range jumpers that will keep defences honest. It will be expected that opposing teams will try to defend off the man most of the time against La Salle so that it will be easy to do help defence inside the paint.

The tendency when this happens is to rotate the ball in the perimeter from one side to another or in other terms, from the strong side to the weak side to see open looks and hit those perimeter shots. The next option is, if defences commit to the perimeter players, the perimeter player can attack all the way inside or hit the mid-range jumper, where ever they are comfortable. It creates a lot of opportunities for La Salle on offense that is why perimeter offense will be a key for La Salle’s success this season.

As the La Salle community has seen last Saturday, rookie Jason Perkins has shown that he is not just an inside player, he can also consistently hit those mid-range jumpers that allowed La Salle to stay in the game, in fact his mid-range jumper allowed the Green Archers to tie the game and eventually force it to overtime. Jason also attempted shots from the three, unfortunately it just did not go in, and the same also goes for Almond and Thomas who had wide-open three-ball attempts that failed to knock in last Saturday.

Defensively, La Salle’s biggest threat is no other than Marata, who played three seasons for the Archers. Back in 2010, He was the hero in La Salle’s only UAAP win against Ateneo in the last 5 years after nailing back-to-back treys in the closing minutes.

Playing in his final UAAP season, Marata has shown that he is the main guy for the Maroons’ FilOil stint and in their opening UAAP Season 76 game last Sunday. If before, he was just a designated shooter, now Sam has added offensive moves in his arsenal to keep defences on their toes and not just be wary of his ability to shoot from deep.

He may not be mentioned in the same calibre of elite collegiate wing men right now but Marata can give La Salle fits if he can find his range early and be comfortable in his game, just like how Jeric Teng paced himself last Saturday against the Green Archers. The question for the Fighting Maroons in this game or in this line up for this season is who will help Marata on offense. Soyud is the default answer but it will be a challenge for him to score against Norbert or Jason on Wednesday.

This will be the perfect opportunity for UP rookie Kyles Lao to help Marata putting points on the board for the Fighting Maroons but for sure he will be challenged on the defensive end as well probably ending up guarding Vosotros, Reyes, or Teng when La Salle is on offense. It will be interesting to see if Coach Manny Dandan will put Julius Wong again as the primary perimeter defender because he got burned by Jericho Cruz in their game against Adamson.

Jeron Teng may not be as fast as Cruz but Jeron is also athletic enough to outwork Wong in the wings. Thomas, LA, and Almond will have their hands full on their opposite numbers as both teams will look to disrupt each other’s offense and take advantage of their quick backcourt. If Thomas and Almond will be able to knock down those open threes, it will be a big plus for La Salle to put away the game early. For UP, if Marata, Soyud, and even Ball can set the tone early on offense, this could be a tough game for both sides.

Hopefully, La Salle’s turnovers last Saturday were just because of opening jitters although credit has to be given to UST’s defence as well in forcing them. Most of the time, turnovers will result to easy transition baskets by the opponents and it is a cliché in basketball that less turnovers, it gives the team a best chance to win the game. Everyone will hear this time and again. Maybe some will not pay attention to it but it will be a forever staple and concept in the game of basketball.

It will be interesting to see how La Salle adjusts and come out to respond in that opening game loss. For anything, La Salle cannot put themselves ahead to their game this Sunday against Ateneo. It will be a mistake to do so and facing UP will be a good preparation towards gaining positive steps for a good UAAP Season 76 campaign. This game against UP could settle down the team or raise further questions for team adjustments. In other words, it is a tricky fixture for the Green Archers this early in UAAP Season 76 .