Sizing Up The Green Archers’ Opposition – Part 2

UST Growling Tigers

Basta kapag nasa lupa ang tigre, malakas kami,” was the warning that was proclaimed by UST tactician Pido Jarencio during the UAAP press conference, and although it elicited laughs and grins from the rest of the members of the media, their opponents knew that was a kernel of truth in that cautioning. A mid-season slide by the Tigers was erased with a late surge that enabled them to nab the last Final Four seat, almost forcing a rubber match with the defending champions in the semis.

Quick Questions:

1. How will their offense handle the return of Clark Bautista, who is another volume shooter?

A couple of years ago, the Tigers were a team that lived and died at the three-point line, which is a double-edged weapon. Squaring up against them felt like an old Western-themed shootout, and when they found their stride no umbrella could keep their opponents safe from the trifectas that they rained on them. But the addition of Karim Abdul enabled them to have a bankable option on the inside, although Jeric Teng, Jeric Fortuna, Kevin Ferrer, and now Clark Bautista are still perimeter shooters who will demand the ball. The primary offensive option should still be Abdul along with the two Jeric’s who have a little more experience than their teammates, although everything will likely on the decision-making of Fortuna who remains their leader on the court.

2. How do they stack up against the Green Archers?

There was a time when Jarencio chose to keep his cards close to his chest and opted to forego the summer tournaments to keep his team’s preparations under a veil of secrecy, but the Tigers are once again participating in the summer tourneys. The Archers happened to be grouped with the Tigers in the Fil-Oil eliminations, and when the teams met, La Salle hacked out a close 78-70 victory over their rivals from Espana. Both teams, however, were missing players during their preseason clash, with the Abdul missing for the Tigers and Luigi Dela Paz, Oda Tampus, Yutien Andrada, and Arnold Van Opstal not suiting up for the Archers.

Norbert Torres, Papot Paredes, Almond Vosotros, and Ponso Gotladera all barged into double digits in that game, along with Jeron Teng, who outdueled his elder brother Jeric for this particular match-up. And by merely looking at all the players who wound up with double figures in points, the obvious advantage that the Archers have over the wards of Jarencio is the number of their big men who can score on the inside, which they will look to exploit once they meet in the UAAP.

Outlook: The loss of Chris Camus at the post will indeed further deplete their already thin frontline, but the return of four key players far outweigh the loss of one, and Black indeed had the right of it when he said that the Tigers have a strong line-up. But once Abdul is either exhausted or saddled with fouls, teams with much more heft will have their way on the shaded lane, and it will be up to their remaining big men to shore up their defenses.

But make no mistake, the Tigers have a better line-up than the one they had last year, where they still made ripples and piled up enough wins to make the semis. And if there’s one thing that’s always been the calling card of Jarencio, it is surprises. And like what he mentioned during that light moment in the press conference, unless other teams can somehow displace his Growling Tigers from land, they indeed are strong.


FEU Tamaraws

Always the bridesmaids, never the bride. This often-mentioned saying perfectly summarized the last two seasons of the FEU Tamaraws, although the road to the championship had been more arduous the last time around. With a twice-to-beat disadvantage staring squarely at them, the Tamaraws turned to their backcourt of former MVP RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo, and Mike Tolomia, and they responded by thoroughly outplaying their counterparts from San Marcelino to arrange another title clash with the Blue Eagles. But for all the brilliance of their series win against the Falcons, it was a repeat of the 2010 script when they met Ateneo, as they were swept in the finals and were once more denied the UAAP title that they last won in 2005, the wind-up of the Arwind Santos era.

Quick Questions:

1. How do they fill in the void left by their players, especially Aldrech Ramos?

Aside from the Adamson Falcons, the Tamaraws likewise suffered many personnel losses due to graduation, with Pippo Noundou, Christian Sentcheu, Jens Knuttel, JR Cawaling, Ping Exciminiano, and the long-limbed Aldrech Ramos all leaving Morayta. And while the impact their losses at the backcourt will be blunted by the presence of Garcia, Tolomia, and Romeo, the loss of Ramos and Noundou will be harder to bear. But the return of Russel Escoto, Mark Bringas, plus the addition of former Archer Arvie Bringas and American Anthony Hargrove proves that mentor Bert Flores still has enough personnel to man the post. Ramos will be hard to replace, for sure, but the athletic Hargrove and Bringas are good pick-ups, and will likely make immediate impacts for the team.

2. How do they stack up against the Green Archers?

Interestingly, the 74th UAAP Season of the Green Archers were started and punctuated by the Tamaraws, as they dealt La Salle a pair of nine-point losses on their way to the last dance. Their triumvirate of Ramos, Romeo, and Garcia all had their way against the vaunted Archer defense in both those matches, especially on the boards, which curiously was one of the strengths of La Salle.

But with Ramos gone and the Archers undergoing change in both their coaches and their roster, things will certainly look different once they clash in the cage wars. Their dangerous backcourt is still their best asset, but the Archers hold an advantage when it comes to the bigs. Needless to say, their meetings this season are bound to be more competitive instead of a pair of relatively easy nine-point wins for the Tams.

Outlook: The Tamaraws have always been a lock in the final four in the past few years, but with the improvement of other teams such as the Bulldogs, the Tigers, and of course the Archers, Garcia and company will have to work extra hard in order for them to land in the top two spots, although a final four slot is still very much possible. But as proven by last season, the team from Morayta is very much capable of overhauling a twice-to-beat disadvantage, and if the absence of Ramos is somehow alleviated by the production of their new big men, they may still get a shot to erase the finals defeats of the last two years.


UP Fighting Maroons

Coach Ricky Dandan was adamant when he mentioned his expectations for the Fighting Maroons next season. “Playing UP will not translate into an automatic W,” he said. And after beating a strong FEU side handily in the first round, it did appear that the dribblers from Diliman would be able to nab a few more wins along the way, but instead, they lost all their remaining assignments, although their two wins was still a far cry from their winless Season 73 campaign.

This was a team that was the worst in rebounding, worst in three-point shooting, worst in scoring in the last UAAP season, and yet they are also the second-best in fastbreak points, fourth in perimeter scoring, and also one of the best in bench scoring, which means that despite all of the blowouts and the barnburners that they have lost, hope still springs eternal in Diliman.

Quick Questions: 

1. This is Mike Silungan’s last season. Can he finally live up to the lofty expectations and propel the Fighting Maroons to a semis berth?

A total of eight players will be playing in their final season for the Fighting Maroons, which means that they have one of the most experienced teams in the UAAP. But this also means that after this season, eight spots in their roster will be vacated, to be replaced by new recruits. Silungan averages 11 markers a game during the preseason in leading the Maroons, but it is his shooting that needs to improve, as he makes a little less than 35% of his shots.

The Maroons’ defense maybe porous at best, but it is really their anemic offense that needs to improve, and it starts with an improvement in the shooting of Silungan, who will be donning the Maroon jersey for the last time and will try to go out with a bang and not a whimper.

2. How do they stack up against the Green Archers?

The Green Archers handily won their heated tiff against the Fighting Maroons in the eliminations of the Fil-Oil Preseason Cup, 64-50. Jovet Mendoza, Norbert Torres, and Almond Vosotros bannered the La Salle cause in that particular game, while it was rookie Chris Ball who was the only Fighting Maroon in double figures. The Archers were able to disrupt the running game that the Maroons like to employ, and their big men likewise bullied their way around the slotmen of their opponents, and if this continues in the UAAP season, then the Archers will be able to beat the team handily.

Outlook: This is a team knows their strengths, which is to thrive in the open court and score buckets in the perimeter, while also possessing of a strong and veteran–laden line-up on paper, and yet somehow, all of these things do not seem to translate into wins for the Fighting Maroons. They managed to pick up a couple of wins last season, and a single one during the preseason, and will be lucky if they rack up the same number of wins this season. For them to claim a few more scalps and contend for a Final Four slot, they will have to embody their moniker, or else, they will be languishing in the cellar for another year.  

But Dandan is a patient mentor who will do his best to motivate his players. “We will be fighting until the last second,” he says, and as long as the Maroons are fighting, then anything can still happen, as proven by that sagely hoops saying: Bilog ang bola.

Part 1: NU, Adamson, UE and Ateneo

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