Go Archers -

The View from the Armchair – Game 5 vs FEU

How do you describe that game against FEU?

Almost, but not quite.

A feel good loss. Oops, I said that last year.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

A morale boosting loss

Wait, I have it.

Aw shucks!

Nuts!

Kids, cover your ears – @##%^^%$$&*&***!!!!!

There, I feel better already.

The team showed that they have the tools to compete head-to-head with the “better” teams. It’s just that they haven’t figured out how to use them effectively yet. Or to be more precise, over a full 40-minute game. But for almost 3 full quarters, they led and improbably dominated the taller, bigger, and much more experienced Tams, forced FEU to desperately play catch-up just to get to overtime, dragged them into a second overtime before succumbing to the pressure and fatigue to fall, 80-84.

At the end of the game, the relieved grins on the faces of the FEU team management said it all. What a wringer, what a great escape for the mighty Tams. From the “greenest” team in the UAAP. Literally.

Another slow start, but …

In our two losses, the Archers started slow, allowing the opponents to score consecutively before rallying. However, in contrast to their loss to NU, the Archers started their run late in the first quarter after trailing 9-17 to close to 14-17.  In the first quarter, Sam Marata sank 2 treys that stretched his streak to 6 consecutive makes counting the last game.

They continued to blank FEU in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd quarter before a floater by Excimiano broke their scoring drought at the 6:08 mark, but Joshua strung together 6 straight points to give us our biggest lead upto that point at 30-21. FEU bunched together 8 points to close to 30-29 before Yutien, Simon, and Sam combined for a 38-30 halftime lead.

A basket and 2 fts by Joshua, a field goal by Yutien, and another Sam trey gave us our biggest lead at 47-37 before FEU rookie Cruz and Cervantes scored to cut the lead to 1, 49-48. A follow up by Papot and 2 fts by Joshua allowed DLSU to retain the lead 53-51 at the end of the 3rd.

The Archers raced to a 64-57 lead, but an increasingly physical defense by FEU forced some turnovers and missed shots as the Tams again rallied to 66-61. Luigi scored our last basket at 3:49 before a strong closing kick by FEU aided by some errors tied the game at 68-all with around 10 seconds left. Timeout La Salle, and Joel was able to drive but missed a last second layup. Overtime.

Joshua gave us our last lead of the game, but the grinding pressure applied by FEU players started to take its toll. FEU led 72-74, but the Archers flubbed two chances to win the game outright as Jovet and Joel each split a pair of free throw to end the first overtime at 74-all.

Sanga poured in 4 consecutive points, Noundou scored on two drives against a layup by Simon, 2 fts by Jovet, and a last layup by Joel, and FEU managed to escape with the pulsating win.

What went wrong

A few things, for sure.

The team showed its vulnerability to mobile big men who can put the ball on the floor and drive. Noundou and Cervantes repeatedly drove in to fish fouls, and were awarded a total of 16 fts among themselves. The 2 also combined for 19 rebounds despite the sterling performance of our “smaller” big men.

FEU rookie Cruz managed to get free a number of times for open shots on assists by their guards, and he pumped in 16 points on 7/8 shooting from close range. BTW, Cruz is not a “true” rookie, being a transferee from another school. FEU’s phenom guard Garcia was shackled early, but as the game wore on, he was able to shake free for penetrations and jumpers. Our guards will need to bone up on their defense against good penetrating guards, which UST and Adamson have on their rosters.

And our shooting took a dip, our players missing layups all game long. Perhaps our players were intimidated by the tall frontliners of FEU, who managed to block 11 of our attempts. For the first time this season, Simon failed to nail a 3pointer.

While we were able to compete on the boards, our frontline rotation consisted basically of Maui, Yutien, and Jovet with Papot showing up occasionally. Ferdinand was surprisingly a no-show yesterday with only 5 minutes. Ferdinand will have to be much more active if he wants to stay in the rotation, because his minutes have been declining with each game.

The team’s poise seemed to evaporate in the endgame. Perhaps it’s the inexperience, or fatigue, but at the endgame, our boys seemed to play “not to lose”, and instead of attacking the FEU defense, they settled for tough shots. The crisp passing disappeared together with the confidence, and they lost some of the cohesion that characterized their game for 3 ½ quarters. That’s how we had a couple of shot clock violations in the 4th quarter.

That last turnover in regulation – the intercepted pass by Garcia that tied the game was preventable because it was entirely predictable. Obviously Maui would inbound to Simon, and Garcia correctly anticipated and gambled on the steal, which paid off. How could this have been prevented? Other teammates could have tried to get into open positions to receive the pass, but probably weren’t too confident that they could make the free throws if fouled. Maybe.

Almost forgot, free throws. Again. 12 misses out of 27 shots awarded to the team. Misses by Joel and Jovet in the last 1:30 of the first overtime could have changed the tenor of the final minutes. But then, any and all of those misses affected the outcome, not just the last few fts that didn’t go in. If any of the misses were converted, FEU could easily have been 4-1, tied with us. But of course, that’s “what if” for you. And it’s pointless to blame the last misses, because all of them affected the result. So more practice at the foul line, please. One make instead of a miss could come in handy in situations like yesterday.

What went right

A lot, too. Great defending most of the time, save for a few lapses. The active defending made Smart Gilas national players Ramos and Cawaling practically disappear, combining for only 9 points and 6 turnovers. Practically all of Garcia’s field goals were heavily contested. The perimeter defense also muzzled the FEU 3point arsenal into an ineffectual 1/12 shooting clip. That’s good defending anytime.

Sam continues to shoot well from afar, going 4/6 from long range. Now he has to work on making shots nearer the basket, because he already has developed the ability to dribble past his man to get a shot off.

Great passing and teamwork on the pick-and-roll between Simon and Yutien. Simon didn’t score too much (only 5 points), but had 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals.

Another fantastic performance from Yutien and Maui on the boards. What heart, battling the whole game against players up to 3 inches and several pounds heavier, and getting the better of them. Maui was a monster on the boards with 13 boards, and he outperformed the taller Noundou (9 rebounds), Cervantes (10 rebounds), and Ramos (7 rebounds). So did Yutien, who had 11. We outrebounded FEU overall, 60-52 despite being much smaller, and had more offensive rebounds, 27-20. Who sez we’re a weak rebounding team?

The Archers showed that they have learned to execute whatever game plan the coaches draw up, and compete effectively enough to get to the point where they can win, but they eased off the pressure and FEU was able to recover in time. They also showed that they haven’t yet learned how to consistently close out such close games against tough opponents. They haven’t played that many games of this type yet, so that’s understandable. This game will have given them that much-needed competitive experience that should serve them well in the next close games.

The rookie watch

Luigi pulled the most minutes again with 24 minutes, 4 points, 2/5 2pt fgs, and 1 rebound. Almond played for 15 minutes, while Oda was inserted for 5 minutes late in the 2nd overtime in an attempt to spark a late offensive. Papot was fielded for  6 minutes, managed 4 points (2/3 fg) and 2 rebounds.

The sophomores

Sam continued his hot streak, playing for 25 minutes and sinking 16 points (4/6 3point, 1/6 2point, 2/4 ft), pulled down 4 rebounds and assisted once. Yutien had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes. He is becoming a key cornerstone of our inside game together with Maui. Joel also played well as our primary quarterback, dropped 7 points but made only 1 out of his 4 fts – a little more shooting practice might be in order.

DNPs

Elorde, Banal, Herrera, Reyes

Looking forward

UST is up next on Sunday, giving our boys just 2 days to recover from that grueling game. But they’re young and when they enter the court on Sunday, they’ll be ready to go. Let’s see how much they learned from the FEU game.