The View From the Armchair: Game 7 vs UE
The Green Archers were battered and bruised but not bowed in losing to UE last Saturday, 62-68. Four Archers hit the floor, with two of the Archers forced out of the game with serious injuries early in the first quarter. Simon Atkins had to be rushed to the hospital after hitting the back of his head on the floor while defending against a driving Warrior. Marko suffered a season-ending ACL injury to the same knee that he spent a year rehabilitating. James went down on a sprained ankle but heroically came back to lead the Archers’ scoring. Rico banged his knee against another player, and lay on the court for a few minutes until he could be helped back to the bench. Despite these early setbacks, the Archers fought back valiantly to cut the margin to six at the final buzzer.
In a quirk of scheduling, the Archers first game in the second round is against first round tormentor UE, tomorrow, August 7. Marko is out for the season, and Simon is expected to remain in sick bay for 1-2 weeks.
A rough start
Both teams had a ragged start and misfired on their early attempts. On a UE fastbreak attempt, Simon held his ground and drew a charge from Lingganay at the 8:15 mark of the first quarter, fell heavily on his back and banged his head on the floor. The accident stopped play for a few minutes, as Simon had to be strapped on a stretcher before being brought to the hospital. Marko’s trey at 7:08 gave La Salle its only lead of the night, and on the next play seconds later, his knee buckled as he tried to stay in front of a driving Thiele. Marko limped off the court, and although he was seen on tv giving the thumbs-up, could not return due to a recurrence of the ACL injury. The two injuries could have unsettled the Archers, as they struggled to find rhythm and consistency on offense and defense during the first 3 quarters. Only in the final quarter did the Archers’s defense stiffen, as they outplayed UE to cut the lead down to six.
The Archers did not shoot well from the field, hitting only 3 out of 16 from the 3point range, and 22 out of 53 on 2point attempts. With the early departure of Simon, JV had to play extended minutes at the point guard position, and this took its toll as he tired out in the 4th quarter. JV was also heavily guarded wherever he went on the court, and was limited to just six attempts from the floor for a total of 9 points. James suffered a sprain, but came back to lead the charge of the Archers in the second half to finish with a team-high 14 points. LA Revilla manfully filled in for Simon, and scored in double figures with 10 points on 1/2 from 3point land and 3/4 on 2 point attempts. Maui put in another sterling performance with 8 points while leading the Archers in rebounding with 9, aside from doing his usual defensive chores. Peejay had an off night, missing all 4 of his 3pointers and hitting only 3/9 2pointers. Rico’s points contributions were sorely missed, as he misfired on both his 3point tries and sank only 1 out of 6 from the floor. Most of those attempts were ill-advised shots, which could have been simpler if Rico had just gone straight to the hoop instead of double pumping to avoid blocks. Rico has to remember that he has the agility, length and jumping ability to shoot over most big men straight up. He could also try to develop a hook around the basket, something which Ateneo’s Al Hussaini has shown this season. Perhaps he should take pointers from Mac Cardona on those quick hooks and floaters, instead of just relying on his jumper. We will miss Marko’s potential production from inside and outside – he sank his first and only attempt, a 3pointer before limping out of the game.
The Archers held the high-powered UE offense to just 68 points, but permitted UE to score enough to build a margin that cushioned the Archers’ last ditch stand in the last 10 minutes. The UE shooters’ hot hands enabled them to connect on 9 out of 18 3point attempts. The success of the UE outside guns forced the Archers’ defense to extend, and this allowed the UE big men some space to maneuver for close-in shots. Martinez was on fire, draining 5/7 3pointers, and was supported by Zamar who made 2/3 from outside. Thiele, Llagas, and Espiritu combined for 21 points around the paint, as they exploited the gaps created by the dribble penetrations of the UE guards Lee, Lingganay, and Martinez. With the UE offensive machine clicking on all cylinders, it was difficult for La Salle to match their intensity after the injuries decimated the Archers’ player rotation.
The Green Archers matched UE in the rebounding department, 44-43. Maui led the way with 9 boards, followed by the injured James and Rico with 8 apiece. Peejay somewhat made up for his subpar shooting performance with 6 rebounds. James was particularly active on the offensive end despite his sprain, pulling down 5 offensive rebounds, followed by Maui with 3. Simon’s absence was felt in the assist area, as La Salle was out-assisted, 12-15. Hyram shared the ball distribution role with LA and JV, and assisted on 4 of the La Salle baskets. The Archers also committed more errors with 20, compared to 17 by UE.
The Rookie Watch
Coach Franz went back to a 12-man rotation, but with Simon and Marko out on injuries, only 4 rookies saw action. Maui logged the most minutes with 26, proving his value on both ends of the court with his defense, rebounding, and scoring. He’ll just have to develop a bit more confidence in his mid-range jumper. Coming off a neck injury, LA played 20 minutes and ably contributed in the scoring and ball handling areas. Hyram played 13 minutes and helped break the UE press, aside from grabbing 5 rebounds , 4 assists, and 2 steals in a good all-around game. Joshua started the game, but played only 7 minutes while scoring 1 point. Incidentally, former Archer candidate Noble played for 5 minutes but was held scoreless.
What needs work
UE came prepared with defensive measures specifically targetted at our key players: JV and Rico. JV was hounded by a UE guard whenever he was on the court, and could not find enough space for his jumpers. Their press was also effective in forcing our guards to use up the shot clock, which resulted in hurried shots with time running out. We will have to watch our turnovers, particularly with Simon out of commission, since UE turned many of these into fastbreak points. The Archers will also have to watch out for penetrations and cuts, as the Warriors repeatedly found holes in the defensive set up.
La Salle finally played Archer ball in the last quarter, with the trademark defensive pressure limiting UE to just 6 points. If they can continue to play that way, UE will have its hands full. Also, as stated by bigfreeze_bibby in AP, the Archers must match the intensity of UE. The coaches will come prepared with a game plan to counteract UE’s aggressive game, and if the Archers can execute it well, UE may just find itself backpedalling throughout the game in much the same way they did in the finals last year.