Pregame Primer: Green Archers vs Tamaraws

Almond Vosotros

So after yesterday’s matches, all teams have played three games each into the first round of eliminations in UAAP Season 76 senior’s basketball competition. There is only one team left standing without any single loss and that is the Far Eastern University Tamaraws. On Saturday, the Green Archers will be the fourth team to try and inflict the first loss this season for the Tamaraws. On paper, it does not seem that the Tamaraws have that dominant line up like what they used to have during the Arwind Santos era but so far, Coach Nash Racela has been pushing the right buttons enough for his wards to win all their three assignments so far this season.

After a shaky start in the FilOil Preseason Cup, it seems that FEU’s main guard crew of Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, and Cris Tolomia have been working like a well-oiled machine so far this season. Many have been sceptical on how Coach Nash Racela will control and allow all three guard gunners to work with harmony and FEU’s wins have been the barometer that Coach Nash so far has steered the ship to the right direction as all three FEU dynamic and backcourt scorers have been delivering the goods expected from them.

For me, these three will be La Salle’s biggest headaches come Saturday. It will be tested as how La Salle will defend quick, dynamic scorers that have lots in their offensive arsenal and utilizes the pick and roll very well as its primary source of points during half court sets. As what I have seen on these three FEU scorers, they elect to shoot jumpers first to get themselves acclimated into the game before settling down by attacking relentlessly to the basket.

All three players love to fish for fouls while attacking the basket, especially if it is a close game and their perimeter game is not working for them. In other words, Romeo, Garcia, and Tolomia are all veteran scorers in their own right enough to make good decisions on the court whether it is a close game or a blowout one so it will be interesting to see what type of defence the Green Archers have in stored for them on Saturday especially on pick and rolls and isolation plays.

Personally, the only way or best way to limit those three is to let them make tough shots and contain them as it will be virtually impossible to stop them, specifically all of them. I know it will be difficult to see whenever Romeo, Garcia, and Tolomia make those impossible tough shots but that’s all you can do to them on defence, not make them comfortable in making their attempts and putting doubts on them whether they should attack the basket or take jumpshots.

Between the two, of course, basketball know-how tells us to let them take jumpers instead (lower percentage shots) rather than seeing them driving the lane at will, which we all saw in the first half of La Salle’s game against Ateneo last Sunday. Another thing that La Salle should be wary of his the scrappy FEU wings like Pogoy, Cruz, Mendoza, and Belo who can contribute at almost any way possible on the court. Those guys can hit the open three and also put the ball on the floor that can create defensive rotation problems for the Green Archers.

It will be important to be aware where those guys on the floor are so that the defence can rotate properly and let FEU to take ill-advised attempts in the offensive end. Norbert, Arnold, and Jason will be challenged in this game as FEU is also a tall team so 50-50 balls will be important as this can be a deciding factor in the game. One thing that the Green Archers can take advantage is to let Romeo, Garcia, and Tolomia play defence just to make them off-balance and tired on offense.

So far, since last season, FEU has done a good job defending La Salle’s pick and roll. FEU always traps the ball handler, making it hard to set up the offense. I would like to see if there will be adjustments to that defence of FEU so that La Salle’s offensive execution will be better. Personally, I find that La Salle’s ball movement becomes slow and stagnant whenever the ball handler gets trapped in the pick and roll since the ball handler is also pushed far away from the basket once FEU shows hard and traps DLSU’s ball handler in the pick and roll.

Since FEU is using long, hybrid forwards in the small forward and power forward positions, I would like La Salle to set some post plays and tenderize these FEU hybrid forwards to make them tired in the ball game but DLSU shooters should be ready once they catch the ball off ball rotation once FEU goes for the double and I hope shots will be converted on one-on-one post moves to keep defences honest.

Another key for this game is back court turnovers and safety once FEU gets the defensive rebound as FEU’s guards can run and put points on the board off turnovers. I hope the Green Archers will not have to dig deep in this game as it will be difficult against these confident and well-coached FEU bunch.

Questions again will rise as to who will step up for this game for the Green Archers. So far, three games, different people stepping up for La Salle so it will be interesting to see which player Coach Juno will use as his key adjustment, well, let’s call it the x-factor for Saturday’s game. Expect a tough grind it out game on Saturday, a low scoring game perhaps to say the least.

I hope La Salle does not get behind early so it is important to have a strong start and even a better finish because the Green Archers cannot relax in this game at any point. Effort and grit has to be put in order to get a tie with FEU and UST (should they beat UE in the first game on Saturday) at the top of the standings after Saturday.

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