The View From the Armchair – Games 1 and 2
The Green Archers started off Season 76 in mixed fashion, falling to UST in the opener in overtime before outscoring UP by 12 to even up their W-L record at 1-1. The two games saw two contrasting performances by the Archers, both on the offensive and defensive aspects of their game.
Against UST, the Archers struggled to hit their shots, making only 31% of their 72 field goal attempts and misfiring from the 3point regions, 5/26. With this kind of offensive performance, UST naturally packed the paint and contested every shot within 10 feet of the basket. The free throw woes carried over from last year, resulting in double digit (10) misses out of 19 tries.
This week against UP, the Archers were on the mark, hitting a high 48% of their field goal tries and nailing 7 out of 12 treys. Their accuracy from the long court forced UP to extend their defenses, opening up the interior for Norbert, AVO, and Jason to score heavily in the paint. Another contrasting performance was their free throw accuracy, where they made a high 13 out of 16 (81%!!!). So it’s possible for our team to make their free throws after all.
After 2 games, the Archers rank 4th in points scored with an average of 77ppg, thanks to the 96 they tallied against UP. They trail FEU (84), ADU (79), and UE (78). In other stats, the Archers are in the middle of the pack: 2point fg % – #4 with 42%, 3point fg % – #3 with 32% (thanks to the game against UP), perimeter points – #4 at 28ppg, bench scoring – #5 with 18ppg, turnovers – #4 with 19/game, second chance points – #4 with 10ppg. We’re among the leaders in rebounds – #3 with 51.5 rpg, assists – #2 with 14 apg, fastbreak points – #1 with 13ppg (again boosted by the UP game), turnover points – #3 with 14ppg, and points in the paint – #2 with 38ppg. In free throw %, the Archers rank 7 with 63%, better only than ADU (57%), and in steals we rank only #7 with 4.5 spg.
Our defense has been erratic at best. True, we held UST to just 63 points, but UST played just as badly as we did. UP, considered by many to be the league bottom dweller this season, managed 84 against us. Our perimeter defense forced UST into a futile 0/13 clip, but allowed UP to sink 14 out of 28 tries from afar. Not good, because UP didn’t have an interior game to speak of. Marata, our former designated shooter in years past, was hot from all over, making 5 treys en route to a game high 21 points. Despite our supposedly knowing his game, we were unable to prevent him from getting his shots.
We’re #5 in points allowed, 73.5ppg for the opponents. For last year’s best defensive team, that’s definitely a step down. We gave up an average of 35 perimeter points per game, and poor shot selection saw us ranked #6 with our players getting blocked an average of 4 times a game. We’re also unable to force our opponents into turnovers, just #6 with 16.5 average turnovers per game. We’ve not been able to prevent our opponents from scoring at the break, #6 because our opponents managed 11 points a game against us.
Coach Juno has kept to a very short rotation, fielding just 10 players against UST (Oda played less than a minute and Robert slightly more. Jason gets the heaviest load, averaging 34 minutes per game, followed by Almond (33), Norbert and Jeron (32.5 each), and Thomas (28.5). Against UST, Matt, Kib, and Luigi did not see any action. Against UP, Kib, Matt, Oda, LA, and Gab were held out. While a short rotation allows players to get into their groove early in the season, the bench players may not get the exposure they need if they are to be called on to perform later in the season.
It’s still early in the season, and with a new coach, it will be difficult to expect the team to hit their stride after only 2 games. But they did show significant improvement against UP, and with Ateneo coming up this weekend, expect the Archers to be very motivated to give it their all after being dominated by Ateneo in the past years. It will be an interesting game for sure.