The View From the Armchair – Game 6: DLSU 56 ADU 52
Finally, a win.
After what seems to be ages, the Green Archers got a much needed win, and in the process snapped a 2-year losing streak against Adamson. But the win also came with a loss – LA sprained his ankle in the first half, and was unable to return.
Ugly win? Definitely.
But a win is a win, and the Archers showed plenty of fight despite allowing the Falcons to hang around. So much fight that there was almost a real one in the first half, when a combative Cruz elbowed Jed in a loose ball situation, knocking him to the floor and kicking his leg while Jed was on the floor. Jed jumped to his feet and went after Cruz, but were separated by cooler heads. Technical fouls were assessed on both players on top of the personal foul on Cruz.
The Falcons were obviously feeling the effects of losing their crack guards in Alvarez and Canada plus big man Colina. However, rookie pg Monteclaro chose this precise game for his breakout, hitting three triples and topscoring for Adamson. To compound matters, LA suffered yet another injury, this time an ankle sprain that led to his departure after logging only 10 minutes with no points.
Top rookie Jeron again showed why he was the most sought after player coming from the high school ranks, knocking in 15 points, with a crucial basket in the closing minutes to allow us to retake the lead, before clinching it with a free throw for the final game point. Jeron actually had a double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive boards. Norbert asserted his advantage in the paint, scoring 12 points inside while also notching a double-double with 13 rebounds to go along with 3 blocks and 3 assists.
Ably supporting them were Macmac who hit all 3 of his attempts for 7 points while seeing limited action in only 14 minutes, and Yutien who was quietly effective with 10 boards, 2 blocks, and 6 points on his patented undergoal cuts.
Jovet saw limited action, only 10 minutes, but his contributions weren’t seen in the scoresheet as he concentrated on bodying up on Adamson’s athletic bigs, keeping them away from the boards and bumping them away whenever they attempted to position for passes or rebounds. Joshua provided that spark of energy and explosiveness with his spurts to the basket for a couple of baskets, and he also helped limit Cruz’s contributions.
Jed burnished his growing reputation as a lockdown defender, collaborating with Joshua in harassing Cruz into just 7 points on a 2/7 shooting clip, following a game where Cruz topscored for the Falcons. Jed also helped ensure the victory with an interception of a pass intended for Cruz in the closing seconds, delivering payback for the hard foul Cruz had earlier committed on him.
Thomas (the smaller Torres) took most of the available minutes at pg with 17, and showed his potential by ably quarterbacking the offensive and closely marking the opposing pgs. He showed guts and lack of nerves in such a pressure-packed game, and with more exposure, he should develop as an able backup to LA.
Coach Gee’s limited rotation saw him field only 11 players. Norbert, Yutien, and Jovet alternated on the boards, spelled for 7 minutes by AVO. LA, Thomas, Macmac, and Almond (11 minutes) took care of pg duties, while Jeron, Joshua, and Jed took turns at the 3-spot. Oda, Luigi, Fonso, Papot, and Gab failed to see action.
The error rate seems to be constant, as the team turned over the ball 16 times. We were lucky that Adamson’s offense this year was affected by the departure of the high-scoring trio of Alvarez, Canada, and Colina, because they could only score 8 points off our turnovers. A less offensively inept team would have burned us for turning the ball over. We’re going to have to start reducing these errors if we want to get into the playoffs.
Our boys play hard enough, and have showed the determination and will to win. However, this conviction seems to desert them once they plant their feet at the 15-foot line. In last Sunday’s game, our players would noticeably tense up, and the resulting free throw went awry 12 out of the 18 times. These are the shots they make lots of during practice. So the mental aspect of ft shooting will have to change, our players will have to somehow block out the noise, pressure, and other distractions. Easy to say, hard to do. But the players will get it soon.
LA’s injury is another matter. He missed one game already, and his balky ankle may not allow him to be 100% this weekend. If he’s not fully fit, maybe the coaches should just sit him to avoid aggravating the injury. Thomas has ably stepped into his shoes, but LA’s ability to score and create for others will be hard to replace. Macmac will have to continue his fine play, and hopefully Almond will rediscover his game to give us another threat at the guard position.
Our defense is showing a significant upgrade over the frenetic, energy-sapping full court press of past years. We’ve managed to limit the scoring of our opponents with the exception of UST, and the only reason the Tigers scored that many is because of the double overtime. Our interior defense is making things very difficult for opponents to shoot in the paint, our rebounding is probably topping the league, and we’ve learned how to play the zone defense (finally!). That side of the equation seems to be good.
Our offense could still do with some work, although we’re able to consistently put the ball in the net. We also have been able to successfully crack a zone (again, finally!). Perhaps a bit more outside shooting accuracy would be nice, and of course the freebies at the line.
Interestingly, the team seems to be at that point where they’re almost able to get it all together. The pieces are there, the players know their roles, the individual skills are being honed (of course, some players still need a bit more training and exposure), the rotation has settled down, and the strategies and in-game tactics make sense. Maybe the team just needs to be convinced that they’re that good. Once they turn the corner, well, here’s hoping anyway …
We’re up against NU this weekend. NU played exceptionally well against us in the Fil-Oil finals, yet we were able to keep the game close despite the noticeable rough edge of the Archer game. The Bulldogs have recovered from consecutive losses, and are in 4th place, a full game ahead of us.
There are no surprises when we play the ‘Dogs – Parks is a superb all-around baller who makes his teammates better. Their bigs like to drive or shoot from the outside, and they have Mbe inside who will pose problems for our frontliners.
But as we’ve seen, our boys will scrap every second of the game. The system of Coach Gee seems to have been learned by the team, and now it’s more a matter of execution than familiarity. Our bench, despite the shorter rotation of the last 2 games, still has some potent talents who could showcase their wares given an opportunity. Expect nothing less than 100% from the team. They know what’s at stake.
If the team plays its cards right, we’ll tie NU at 4-3. And that’s a good starting point for our playoff push. Whatever happens, after 40 minutes, NU will know that they’ve been in a dogfight. Hope they have a vet nearby.