Go Archers -

The View From the Armchair – FilOil Flying-V Finals

The 2012 edition of the Green Archers concluded their preparations for the UAAP with a respectable runner-up finish in the Filoil-Flying V tournament, losing out to a resurgent NU Bulldogs, 54-64 in a tightly contested finals match. The Archers battled NU on even terms for much of the game, losing out only in the last 5 minutes when the Bulldogs waxed hot from beyond the arc while our shots rimmed out.

The game was a contrast in coaching continuity, with NU on its second year of rebuilding under Coach Altamirano, while the Archers are still in the process of reassembling their game after Coach Gee Abanilla took over from Dindo Pumaren. The difference showed in the Bulldogs’ smooth and fluid execution of their game plan, even under the tremendous pressure exerted by the Green Archers whose own system re-engineering has already shown significant improvements over their performance in the UAAP last year.

The Archers had a different look on both offense and defense. Gone were the complex multiple staggered screens and the tough catch-and-shoot plays. In their place was more patient ball movement around the perimeter, post plays, pick and rolls, and weak side baseline cuts. The opponents’ zone defense didn’t catch the team by surprise – they had ready plays when NU sprang the zone, but the shots just didn’t sink from the outside – we made only 3 treys out of 15 tries.

On defense, the game-long full court press was gone, replaced by quarter-court pressure on the strong side, and particular defensive attention was paid to tournament MVP Rayray Parks, who faced a succession of guards in Manguera, Webb, Andrada, and even Mendoza. Despite the close marking, Parks managed 19 hard earned points, hitting two triples to spur NU’s decisive run in the last quarter. Internal defense emerged as a key strength of the Archers, with our frontliners blocking 8 of NU’s attempts, 4 coming from Torres who showed another dimension to his game in this tournament. Unfortunately, NU got hot from beyond the arc, with Mbe even sinking one in the 4th quarter.

LA Revilla and Norbert Torres led the Archers with nearly identical numbers in scoring (14 and 13), assists (4 each), assists (1 each) and rebounds (6 and 5). Yutien was effective with a couple of mid-range jumpers and two nice undergoal stabs for 8 points. Guard Almond Vosotros was off, managing only 5 points, and rookie Jeron Teng could not get his game going, finishing with only 4 points coming from one basket and a couple of free throws. Tallo likewise had a quiet game, tallying only a field goal, 2 assists, and a rebound.

The Archers managed to limit their turnovers to 14, and were able to compete on the boards, 41-47. However, they settled for jumpers more often than not, and as a result were awarded only 5 free throws against NU’s 15. NU’s edge in free throws and made treys spelled the difference in the game.

Our team is shaping up quite nicely, with the coaches obviously paying attention to detail in all aspects of the game. The offense is smoother, the players know the sets and are able to execute most of the time. The defense is consistent, man-to-man coverage is better, and the secondary help is great. A bit more work is needed in boxing out, but our players now seem to have a better nose for where the caroms are headed.

The team’s performance in the tournament had its ups and downs, but some learning can’t be rushed. The improvements are already obvious, and more are still to come. Under the tutelage of big man coach Jun Limpot, our bigs have shown significant improvement both on offense and defense. For example, Torres now does most of his scoring in the paint, and Gotladera already showing nifty moves to get his shot off in traffic. We now have slashers who can penetrate and create, and our wing players can hit the outside shot, albeit not yet that consistently.

The team will be ready for the UAAP, and this early, it’s not unrealistic to expect them to strongly contend for the final 4. We definitely have something to look forward to this season.