The View From the Armchair: Game 9 vs UP
As expected, the Green Archers easily hurdled the UP Maroons, 81-61 at the Philsports Arena last Sunday, despite missing Simon and Marko. The Archers led for all but the first 2-3 minutes of the game, when UP took a 3-2 lead, but once the La Salle offensive started clicking, they grabbed the lead and were never headed. Coach Franz used the game to tinker with his lineup in preparation for the big games ahead against FEU, UST, and Ateneo, using a blend of veterans and rookies at various times during the game. Coach Franz utilized all his 14 available players in this game. Simon showed up but was still not fit to play and was in civilian clothes for the game.
Archers slow off the blocks but finish strong
As in previous games, the Archer opponents took an early lead behind the accurate shooting of former Junior Archer Martin Reyes before PJ Walsham scored on a hook, 7-all. JV Casio stripped UP’s Lopez for a solo fastbreak to trigger the Archer breakaway. Rico connected on 10 straight points including a triple that pushed the Archers ahead for good, 19-9 as he singlehandedly outscored UP in the first quarter. Rico also dominated the interior as he decisively rejected two Maroon inside attempts and grabbed a couple of rebounds. Unable to penetrate the tight interior defense, UP was forced to take outside shots and connected on several long shots in the second quarter to creep closer at 23-27. JV temporarily doused the rally with a triple and a layup, 32-23, but gritty play by the smaller Maroons capped by a Reyes triple allowed UP to threaten at 32-30. A JV penetration through the UP defense closed out the first half scoring, 34-30. In the first half, JV and Rico carried the brunt of the Archer offensive production with 14 and 10 points respectively.
Rico opened the second half with a follow up, JV converted a triple followed by Rico’s second trey to jump start the Archers’ game, 42-33. Aggressive Archer defense again forced UP to take outside shots, and only the accuracy of Reyes prevented a blowout in the 3rd quarter. Probably the highlight of the quarter was Rico’s attempted dunk over the taller Sison, which would have resulted in a spectacular 2handed stuff if he had not been fouled. Rico sank both fts, then scored on another drive to tow the Archers to a double digit lead at 51-40 before the green-and-white team closed the 3rd quarter at 59-48. In the final quarter, the Archers limited UP to 13 points while scoring 22 to win comfortably. JV and Rico were fielded sparingly to allow the second team players some playing time.
The Archers offensive performance was typical of their games. The Archers tallied 27 points from long range, hitting 9/30, led by James and JV with 3 apiece, Rico with two, and LA with one trey. From the floor, the Archers went 22/50. The most accurate Archers were Peejay with 5/7, Rico with 4/6 Rico, JV with 4/, and James with 3/6. Four Archers scored in double figures led by Rico with 19, JV with 17, James with 16, and Peejay with 10. Free throw shooting was so-so at 10/16.
The Archer defense was in full show as they limited UP to 61 points. The interior defense anchored on Rico intimidated UP’s bigs and forced UP to turn to the long shot as their main weapon. Martin Reyes managed 21 points but he was the only Maroon to score more than 9. Woody Co was harassed into 9 points on 1/6 shooting from the field and 1/3 on 3pt attempts.
The La Salle defense is starting to round off into form just in time for the critical stage of the 2nd round. The press forced UP to eat up their shot clock just getting the ball into the quarter court, and they were unable to effectively run their offensive sets as a result.
The Archers dominated the boards against the undersized Maroons, 53-39. Our size advantage was reflected in the disparity in offensive rebounding, 21-10. The Archers out-assisted the Maroons, 19-14, and forced 16 turnovers compared to their 12. The interior defense blocked 4 UP attempts, courtesy of Rico with 3 and James with 1 block. UP matched the Archer steals with 6.
The Rookie Watch
The rookies did not figure as prominently compared to the UE games although all rookies saw action. As usual, Maui and LA played the most minutes with 20 and 16 respectively, followed by Hyram (13), Jovet (9), Joshua (6), and Manoj (1). As usual, Maui was quietly effective with 5 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. LA also scored 5 points on top of 5 assists, 1 steal, and 1 rebound. Hyram failed to score but pulled down 3 rebounds and helped with the defensive and ball handling chores. Jovet concentrated on defense and grabbed 3 rebounds.
What needs work
At this point of the tournament, the coaches have already scouted the competition and will have devised countermeasures to address the game plans and tendencies of the other teams. It will now boil down to execution, focus and concentration in the game. Against the stronger teams, the Archers cannot afford those defensive lapses and miscues that allowed UP to creep within 2 in the first half. The Archers will just have to keep their concentration for the full 40 minutes.
The defense, when the Archers decided to turn it on full blast. While the defensive pressure does not usually result in a mini-run because other teams have already devised press break plays, it still manages to disrupt the offensive sets of the opposition. Also the increasing maturity of the younger players, who no longer rush plays, and now stick to the system. Our resident bigs, JWalsh and Ferdinand, also put in good minutes and effectively clogged the interior despite playing limited minutes. We’ll need them to plug any defensive holes against the bigger teams.
Next game: vs NU (2pm Aug 16 at the PhilSports Arena)
NU will be playing minus Garcia and Jahnke, who were injured in last weekend’s game against UE. Despite their absence, the ‘Dogs remain dangerous because of their tenacity and ability to play well against fancied teams. Remember, they beat FEU in the first round, and last year upset Ateneo in the second round.