The Clipboard: NU presents a big test for streaking Archers

It’s been so far, so good for De La Salle in the early stages of this UAAP season.

Living up to their “Mayhem” mantra, the Green Archers have been on a tear in their last two games, beating their opponents by an average of 28 points. While their defense has been remarkable, the team has put on quite an offensive display that we haven’t seen in such a long time.

More than just the upgrade in talent, it is definitely clear that the character of this team has significantly changed since Coach Ayo came in.  The tenacity on defense, the willingness to bang bodies on every play and most importantly, that killer instinct that us supporters have long been waiting to see from this team that has underachieved in the past two years.

At this point, we can only hope that they be able to sustain this same intensity and mental toughness until the end of the season.

Tomorrow’s game against NU will be a big test to the Green Archers resolve. With all due respect to the previous three opponents, the team’s performance against the Bulldogs will give us a much better gauge as to how far they can go this season.  NU is perhaps the only college team that convincingly beat La Salle in the preseason tune-ups and based on what we have seen so far in their initial games, they are definitely going to contend for the title.

Unlike the Green Archers that love to play up-tempo and put a lot of points on the board especially off turnovers, the Bulldogs’ game is more systematic and deliberate. While both teams put a lot of premium on the defensive end, NU would rather keep the game low-scoring.

The key to this game is perhaps to keep the Bulldogs off the boards and not give them any second opportunities to score.  If La Salle gets their offensive rhythm going, they will be at an advantage as NU does not have that deep arsenal to engage in a shootout.

Basically, it will come down as to which team that will be able to control the pace of the game. If the Archers continue to execute on defense and score a lot of transition points, they will surely come out on top here.  If NU somehow manages to disrupt La Salle’s flow and frustrates them, they have a shot.

Notes: Match-up to watch out for will be Ben Mbala and Alfred Aroga who both are dominating big men on both ends of the floor. NU forward Matt Salem, who played two seasons for La Salle, will be going up against his former team for the first time in the UAAP. Also facing their former school are ex-NU high school standouts and now Green Archer rookies Mark Dyke and Justine Baltazar.

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