Pregame Primer: Green Archers vs Growling Tigers

Jeron Teng

June 29 – 4PM – MOA Arena

Una Sa Takilya vs. Disiplina

Last June 25, 2013 in the UAAP Season 76 Press Conference, the ever quotable coach Pido Jarencio of last season’s runners-up, the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers used “Una Sa Takilya” as his tag line in his prognosis on how the Tigers will fare this season 76 in the men’s basketball competition.

Whether he is serious or not, personally, UST is indeed a team that has always been fun to watch mainly because of their run and gun free-flowing style of offense preached by their 8th year head coach. The Espana-based dribblers still have more than enough scorers in their UAAP Season 76 men’s basketball roster that is capable of lighting the baskets up at any given time.

From my seat in the venue, while Coach Pido was delivering his usual tag lines to amuse everyone in the Mall of Asia Arena, there is one guy that does not smile at all. His face is plain, emotionless to say the least, just staring and looking to Coach Pido during his allotted time to express his predictions for UAAP Season 76, not just for his Growling Tigers but also for the rest of the league.

This guy really means business and he is no less than the head coach of the De La Salle Green Archers for UAAP Season 76, Coach Juno Sauler. When asked on his prognosis, it all came down to one thing: discipline. From his interviews on the time he was named the new head coach of the Green Archers until now, discipline is the consistent thing that you will hear from Coach Juno. But take note, it is discipline both on and off the court.

Apparently, these two principles emphasized by both coaches can also be compared on how these two teams play. These styles will collide on the opening day of the UAAP Season 76 men’s basketball competition this Saturday, June 29, 2013 at the Mall of Asia Arena at 4:00pm. This is definitely a good test for both schools which also faced in the opener of the 2013 FilOil Preseason Cup last April 13, 2013.

That was the only time both DLSU and UST faced in the preseason though and a lot has changed for the Green and White outfit from April 13 until today. The FilOil game cannot be used as a good measure on at least predicting how these two teams will match up come Saturday. One thing that changed for DLSU is that ceiling cannot be anymore used as an advantage.

With Yutien Andrada, Papot Paredes, and Fonzo Gotladera not anymore in the Green Archer line up for this season, the frontline for the guys in green will be manned by Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, and Jason Perkins. Jeron Teng and Matt Salem due to their height, will occasionally also play the power forward position at times to help the three mentioned natural front court players of DLSU.

Their counterparts in Espana will look like this: Abdul, Lo, Pe, Faundo, Hainga, with Ferrer and Mariano (being the versatile he is) alternating at the power forward position if Coach Pido desires to do so. This will be a challenge for the Green Archers especially if Norbert or Arnold (worst case both) goes into foul trouble early so defensive rotations from help defenses will come crucial to keep Norbert and Arnold in the game.

Faundo and Hainga may not see that much playing time unless it is really needed but still it gives Coach Pido extra bodies up front to bang with La Salle’s thin frontline. I think Jeron’s commitment to play the power forward position will be the key here since he will be tasked to do more than just score. He also has to box out, defend, and trigger those outlet passes in transition.

Jeron has a good upper body strength no doubt which I give him a plus that he can battle it down low but more importantly, the mental aspect of doing it for the rest of the season will be the key for this “re-aligned” frontline for the Green Archers. I expect him to match up most of the time against Mariano, who is a very good offensive player for the Tigers.

Many seem to point out that UST lacks a true point guard this season with the vacated position left by former Junior Archer Jeric Fortuna. Yes, his playmaking will be sorely missed by the Tigers and this is the challenge for other Tiger scorers like Teng, Mariano, and Ferrer to create on offense for others unlike last year that they can just focus on how to get their shots.

It can also be seen that many say that by just simply pressing UST, it will be the key in beating them. Remember, as we have seen through time, if there is a big man that can bring down the ball that is already more than enough to break a team’s pressure defense. For UST’s case, it can be Teng, Ferrer, or Mariano although I see Mariano as the best ball handler of those three so I see him as the primary ball handler if teams will apply pressure defense.

Another focal point of discussion is on how the team will play defense on individual scorers like Jeric Teng. Remember during the FilOil tournament, DLSU had a hard time defending scoring guards like Ravena, Sumang, and Amer. Although DLSU beat UST in FilOil, still Jeric’s scoring ability cannot be discounted and at times, he will still command double teams especially when he’s posting up.

UST’s problem will be their bench scoring so it will be seen how Coach Pido will try to not field his strongest five of Bautista, Teng, Mariano, Ferrer, and Abdul from 1st to 3rd quarter perhaps then saving them for crunch time in the 4th period. It will also be crucial for DLSU to knock down their perimeter jumpers to give space for Norbert, Arnold, and Jason to do their damage inside.

Thomas, Almond, and LA’s scoring from mid-range stretching into the three ball region will also help ease the burden of a clogged lane for Norbert, Arnold, and Jason. This will also allow slashers like Jeron, Oda, and Bolick to penetrate into the shaded lane at ease. But still DLSU will opt to go first inside before rotating the ball to the perimeter and to the slashers waiting in the wings.

Another plot that has to be seen is Coach Juno’s handling of in-game situations. La Salle supporters did not have the benefit seeing Coach Juno handling the team over live television and actual tournament during the preseason. Coach Juno led the team on tune up games in his three-week preparation program for the team leading into this Saturday’s match up against UST and this UAAP men’s basketball season.

Just two days from now, for sure college basketball aficionados can’t hardly wait to start UAAP Season 76 especially for the title hungry Green Archers. Five years of waiting is just too long and it became too painful seeing your arch-rivals winning in those five waiting years.

So many questions, even doubts especially DLSU listing up only 13 players from the maximum of 16 required by the UAAP. But I guess Saturday will be a good avenue to provide some answers to the questions raised by the community on how this batch of Green Archers will fare this UAAP Season 76. Good luck Green Archers! Start the season strong on Saturday. Borrowing the tag line used by my Boss Sir Manny Bocaling, “It will always be Animo La Salle!”

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