The View From the Armchair – Game 3 vs UP

Finally! A win, something which appeared to be a rare commodity given the poor start of the Archers to Season 74.

The struggling Green Archers finally broke into the win column, pounding UP on the boards en route to a much-needed 79-67 victory. With the win, the Archers climbed out of the cellar into a 4-way tie with UST, UP, and NU for 4th to 7th place.

Now there’s no chance of a perfect record for the green-and-white squad, which allowed some pessimistic supporters to breathe a sigh of relief, because they had privately entertained the horrible thought that with the consecutive losses and the way the Archers were playing, a clean slate was remotely possible.  No longer. Whew. Glad we got the ice breaker.

The win hopefully allowed the Archers to turn the corner, and should serve as a foundation for successful team play this year.

Dissecting the game that was

In contrast with the first 2 games, the Archers jumped on UP from the opening tip, raced to an early double digit lead at 19-9, sputtered for the rest of the first half, regained their bearings in the third quarter to erect a 20 point lead at 57-37, then coasted to a comfortable 12-point win.

Against the smaller Maroons, the DLSU coaches decided to exploit the height advantage of the Archer frontline, going to Van Opstal early, who responded with 9 first half points. Maui Villanueva and Yutien Andrada rekindled images of their successful interior play last year, combining for 17 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.  The taller Archers routed UP on the boards, 64-38.

This time around, the Archers spread the scoring load around, with 4 players notching double digit scores. LA Revilla, our diminutive point guard who averaged 20 points in our first 2 games, gladly scored only 9 points as he concentrated on ball distribution and quarterbacking our offense.

A caveat – although the game was almost a blowout, there are still several raw spots in the Archers’ game that must be addressed if they are to figure in the championship race this year. The hard-fighting Maroons never gave up, and found some pressure points that rattled our team, particularly in the final quarter before our players regained their composure to outlast UP.

What went wrong

The Archers were still inconsistent – brilliant in spots, like at the start of the second half where they reeled off 12 straight points while blanking their counterparts for 3 ½ minutes, and terrible at times. The Archers also showed that they are capable of a Jeckyll and Hyde game, playing “ugly” ball in the 2nd quarter and stretches of the 4th quarter to allow UP to entertain thoughts of a rally. Fortunately, our boys regained their bearings, and used the game clock to our advantage in both instances.

In particular, the green-and-white squad turned over the ball 8 times in the second quarter, gifting UP with 6 turnover points and misfiring from the field, 0 for 4 from 3-point area and 5 for 14 from closer in. The 27.8% shooting clip in this stretch was reminiscent of their poor shooting in the first 2 games. Happily, they regrouped after the half-time break to blow the game wide open and erect a double-digit lead that never fell below 10 points.

The 22 turnovers eclipsed the 17 errors the team logged in each of their previous games, and this is definitely a cause for concern since our system is heavily dependent on forcing our opponents to commit more errors. If we are to win consistently, we must force the competition to play our game.

Two of our expected scorers still seem to be off. Sam Marata went scoreless, missing all 4 of his attempts, while Norbert Torres made only 2 of his 6 attempts. Hopefully they will find their range in the next game.

Lastly, and more importantly, our defense, or the lack of it. Defense has been the trademark ofLa Sallebasketball for the last 2 decades, but it seems to be less of a weapon this year. Below is a brief analysis from Proud Archer:

       The defense was there for 3 1/2 quarters.  The only thing I didn’t like about that game was we allowed UP to Score 20 points on us in the last 6 minutes, or 3.33 points a minute, while we scored only 14 points during that stretch or 2.33 points per minute.  Relaxing with a big lead is natural but it sets wrong habits.  This is the opportunity for the second stringers to work hard for their playing time, not protect the lead.  It dulls our killer instincts which we need for the more crucial games.  Overall, however, this was a good win.  There were lapses but none to be concerned about. 

        It still sets me up to my game by game analysis.  We are now second in offense, but still dead last on defense, thus we still have a losing quotient.  Look at the winning teams.  Ateneo is first on offense and remarkably, first on defense.  Adamson is only fourth on offense but second on defense.  Lastly, FEU is REMARKABLY only 7th on offense but THIRD on defense.  These are the three teams leading right now.  Numbers 1, 2, and 3 on defense. 

What went well

 The great team play and ball movement. The Archers logged 25 assists on their 29 field goals. Great teamwork! For once, set plays were executed successfully against the zone and man-to-man defenses of the opponents, behind crisp passing that freed up our big men to receive drop passes inside.

Our outside shots started falling as well, with Luigi nailing 2 treys and Simon breaking out of his slump to hit one. Yutien also bounced back with a lot of energy after missing the game against Ateneo, making things difficult for UP in the paint while moving well away from the ball on offense.

Surprisingly, most of our free throws went in! 17 out of 21 for 81%, tops for the day. Our coaches must be doing something right. Now, if only they could also improve our fg %, we’ll be in the thick of things.

Looking forward

We’re now at 1-2. Our first win was, frankly, expected since it came at the expense of UP, a team most expected to hug the cellar. So while a win is a win, it would have been catastrophic if we had lost.

But that win showed that the team does have the stuff to be a force when they get it all together. Offensively, this team has a lot in its arsenal. The defense, while apparently having been thoroughly scouted by the opposing coaches, still has a few surprises left. With our current frontline, we outsize most of the teams, and our guard corps is among the best.

Getting all these different parts of the Archer system to work seamlessly together is the challenge of our coaches. The win against UP showed that they are now getting the team to mesh the way they envisioned. Expect more cohesion as the games go along.

Up next is NU on Thursday, July 28 at 3pm. Historically, the NU team has been logistically challenged, but no more. Backed by the Sy family of the Shoemart group, the Bulldogs are now mentored by former PBA coach Eric Altamirano, and led by Ray-ray Parks, the celebrated son of former PBA import Bobby Parks. The younger Parks is an immensely talented player around whom the 2011 ‘dogs are constructed, and he’s their key. Bottle him up, and the ‘dogs main threat is muzzled. At least, that’s the theory. Let’s see how our coaches put it to practice.



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