The View From the Armchair – Game 8 vs ADU

Déjà vu. Best described by the word another.

Another heart-breaking loss to Adamson, 66-68. Another game that extended our losing streak against the Falcons. And also against Coach Austria. Boy, he sure has our number. Probably memorized it, in fact. In much the same way that we’ve already memorized the strengths of the Falcons, which they used to so much effect (again!!!) in our game today.

Another game that showcased how Adamson has developed an answer for everything we do, for the past 2 years. Using exactly the same weapons that they had used so successfully in the past. Great unhindered outside shooting. Good crossover moves by an opposing guard on the perimeter to get deep into our defense, force the secondary defender to commit, and dish off to a waiting big. I’m sure we’ve seen that repeatedly over the past 2 years.

Another 2 point quarter that highlighted the inability of the team (and particularly the coaches) to adjust to moves of the opponents. The Archers did well in the first quarter, forced the Adamson coaches to make some changes in their setup which worked so well that our team took 9 minutes to score its only basket (and points) while allowing the Falcons to wax hot on the perimeter (I wrote about this after our last game with Adamson).

Another quarter where they were totally outplayed, getting routed both on offense and defense.

On the other hand,  another great quarter where they dominated the opponents.

But also another game where the team failed to find a way to beat a top tier opponent.

Put these all into the mix and you very accurately describe our second round game against Adamson.

Consistency. Certainly a trait of our team. Unfortunately.

Inconsistency. Again unfortunately. Great play in 2 quarters, but losing basketball in the other 2. What can you say? Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde again? Bipolar disorder? I’m running out of words. Also of patience.

What went wrong

Another meltdown, but this happened early, enough to put us deep in a hole that was just too difficult to dig our way out of, but we almost did. The effort to pull our way back into the game was commendable, if unnecessary. Unnecessary, because if the team had managed to stop the Adamson run in the second quarter, we wouldn’t have to face that kind of deficit.

The perplexing inability of our coaches to figure out how to solve the Adamson puzzle. The frustrating lack of counter-measures in reaction to the adjustments the other teams have made. All painfully apparent in that disastrous 2nd quarter where our shooting went south (1/14) and our defense obligingly opened the gates to the Adamson shooters, who hoisted 6 shots from rainbow territory in that fateful 10-minute period and made 4. The trey is one of the lowest percentage shots, yet we allowed Adamson to take them with confidence. That lapse in our defense seems to becoming an alarmingly regular situation.

The seeming unfamiliarity with the Adamson press-break which was used to bring the ball into the front court with great effect – Adamson used only 2 or 3. A forward pass up the sideline into the front court, which was used repeatedly in the first half. A solo dribble by the pg against individual backcourt coverage. Or an Adamson big taking the ball near the halfcourt line and crossing over. Simple. Easy to spot because they did break the press repeatedly. But if it were that simple, why didn’t we seem to be able to do anything about it?

Again, why did we play the 2-3 zone defense at all? In our last game, they easily shredded our zone in their first few plays, and repeatedly whenever our coaches called the zone. We showed zone again in the second half, with predictable results. More Adamson baskets. Why??? Adamson has all the weapons to beat the zone, and they proved it against us already in our last game. And when we go zone, it negates our height advantage and ability to block out because our players are defending areas, not warm bodies. Adamson’s bigs got to the boards with great effect, and we were outrebounded as a result. Didn’t we learn anything from that? Apparently not, because we allowed them to do it again to us. Did our coaches suffer a case of amnesia? Because we went zone at in the 2nd quarter and again in the 3rd. Bad decision. Really bad call.

Our defensive woes were magnified in that last game-winning shot of Nuyles. Oda took an ill-advised attempt to swipe Nuyles’ dribble, which allowed Nuyles to make his turn and get free for that marginal jumper. Honest defense would have made it easier. Why go for an attempt to steal at such a crucial time with only 10 seconds left? Why wasn’t the team told what not to do?

Jovet’s game today can only be described as head-scratching. Successive forced attempts. Not in position for the misses. Were those his instructions before he was told to come in? Yutien also had a bad game, only 2 points on top of 3 rebounds. Our bigs don’t seem to be able to consistently play well at the same time. Is this a function of the minutes they’re allowed to play?

Questionable rotation. Sara was fielded in for a short period in the 2nd quarter, and Adamson used this to gain additional momentum. Experimenting with the rotation at this late stage is risky at best. The subs can come in, but when the game’s out of reach either way. Only then, because from here on, every game counts.

LA’s game has taken a bit of a dip. From the unflappable ball distributor we saw early in the season, he’s been having less success now that the opponents are paying much more attention to him. However, his productivity has also gone down; today he had 2 points, 3 boards, 2 assists, and 3 TOs. He’s going to have to get his game untracked if we’re to go deep into the postseason in order for us to have 2 potent point guards. Sara isn’t expected to contribute this season.

And what’s AVO’s consistent foul trouble? His fouls limit his time on the floor, and are usually unnecessary because they’re committed on an opponent who isn’t even going for the basket. He still hasn’t learned to use his height, length, and size advantage – he still double clutches against shorter players, fakes, and releases the ball only around the level of the bottom of the board. And on defense, he hasn’t been able to assert his presence. Opponents can drive and lay in the ball in his presence without being too concerned that he will alter their shot. It’s a pity that AVO plays less than his height.

I noticed that we have started turning the ball over with illegal screens on the perimeter. Several times in the last 2-3 games. The screen by our bigs is a key component of our plays to free up our shooters and ball handlers, but our “screeners” seem to have forgotten how to screen properly.

What went right

Great Animo in the 4th quarter. But it came too late, after being absent in the middle quarters.

Almond’s breakthrough game this season, with him as the top scorer and rebounder. He recovered from a lackluster first round with a clutch performance in the last few minutes to almost personally haul us back into the game. Those 2 treys were particularly telling, and helped energize the team for that great finishing kick.

Norbert’s continued strong play showed that he has started to find a groove. Maybe not his preferred groove, but he’s now finding ways to contribute. Maui’s great off the ball play has allowed him to get into position for those drop passes under.

Looking forward

If the game against Adamson is any indication, it doesn’t look like we will go deep in the post season if the team continues to play the same way. They are just too inconsistent; they play well only in stretches and not at all at times. Very likely, we’ll make the final 4, but unless quantum improvements are, the team just doesn’t seem to have the ability to play consistently well for the whole game. They need to do this against the better teams.

Up next is UE on Saturday, which we clobbered soundly. UE also suffered a 40-point beatdown against Adamson, so their morale is probably down. The Warriors will most likely end up at the bottom of the standings this season, so we should win that game.

No matter how bleak it seems, let’s Keep the Faith!

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