Here we go again, folks. Starting today, everyone will be talking about the UAAP once again. Calendars will be marked, leaves will be filed just to catch our favorite teams play. Mood swings will be at an all-time high, especially for the die-hards. From good, fantastic wins to bitter and painful defeats (yes, Mr. Belo, you are still on my mind to be honest and I am itching for my team to get back at you), roller coaster emotions will be at play starting Sunday and probably will last until around December.
I am very much sure also that our beloved Green Archers are also equally excited to strut their stuff in front of us. Yeah, I just heard all sorts of things swirling around when the line up was released. Team is small, they will have a hard team dealing with other team’s bigs, are they going to play more zone now to negate their lack of size? Are they going to abandon their half-court sets more and instead opt to go run and gun? Folks, two days will just breeze (we waited for an additional one month from the usual July opening, what more two days?) and I think all these questions will be answered.
Right now, what we can use as basis for the talking points are the FilOil summer league performances of both teams. It is because it was where potential UAAP line up was seen playing in the preseason for both the NCAA and the UAAP squads. Defending UAAP champions, NU, failed to barge in the quarterfinals while the Green Archers made it all the way to the finals, falling short to the San Beda College Red Lions to finish in 2nd place in the summer tournament.
For sure, some may disagree with me if I say NU will try to play small ball since some may say that the Bulldogs are still a tall team despite missing the services of Troy Rosario, Glenn Khobuntin, and Henri Betayene. I think my basis for saying that the Bulldogs are on the side of playing small ball this season was because during their FilOil summer league games, they are experimenting on playing full court pressure defense, whether it be a zone or man to man full court trapping defense. Bulldogs’ assistant coach and former DLSU one-man press himself, coach Mon Jose for sure can contribute a lot into it if NU decides to implement it this season relatively because of their length and athleticism on their roster.
The Bulldogs’ offensive focus now shifts solely to Gelo Alolino with Alfred Aroga, and JJ Alejandro helping him out carry the scoring cudgels. It remains to be seen if JJ Alejandro can be consistent and continue his stellar playoff form last season, playing way above his average and showing his potential in their final four conquest of top-seeded Ateneo Blue Eagles and then winning the title in the finals series over the FEU Tamaraws.
I am also not sure if Neypes can be relied on and step up on the absence of Rosario and Khobuntin. I personally felt that Neypes is not getting that much of an exposure because of those two. Now that Rosario and Khobuntin have moved on to the pros, I think it is about time for Neypes to be one of the Bulldogs’ go-to guys on offense since, as we all know, he is capable of leading a team back in his days as a Tiger Cub in España.
Last season, Rosario and Khobuntin were in-charge on playing defense against the Green Archers’ main offensive threat, Jeron Teng. On Sunday, Jeron may have his way on any NU defender that will stand in front of him individually. But of course, talking about NU’s team defense is a totally different matter since the Bulldogs are one of the defensively disciplined teams in the league since its players are focused on following their schemes on the court.
At the low block, Aroga may get touches but he is still not your typical back to the basket player that can give sure two points when he makes his move with his back to the basket. He is more comfortable making his move off a face-up even if he gets the ball in the low post. Muyang, Tratter, and even Rivero will get their hands full stopping Aroga inside the paint on Sunday. Our front line may seem to be small on paper but I am telling you, these guys won’t back down physically inside the paint as they are capable of taking and giving those pushing and shoving that we expect to see this season against almost every team in the league.
I think the key for the Green Archers this season is going to be scoring off fastbreaks from defensive rebounds. What I would like to see from the team is doing gang rebounding duties if needed and then pushing the ball on the break to get easy points since I feel that this team can out run the other teams for easy transition baskets. Like for this Sunday, the challenge is disrupting NU’s point guards namely, Alolino and Diputado (whom I see is a very legit starter as well in the league) and not allowing them to be comfortable setting up the table for NU’s offense.
Both Alolino and Diputado can light it up all day so it will be dangerous giving them room to get hot, whether it be on their individual sets or off the pick and roll plays. It will also be good to make these guys work on defense so it will be important also for Andrei and Thomas to make baskets that may help taking off the rhythm from Alolino and Diputado.
Talking about a small front line, our front court guys have shown that once you give them the ball in the paint, they know what to do with it. Jason, Prince, Larry, and Abu are all capable of making baskets once they get good position in the paint. I have to commend the effort of these guys as well since all of them are know relentless workers who makes effort to get the basketball on both ends of the floor. This is one area where I think we can out work NU off the glass to get transition baskets. Not to mention that Jason and Larry get hit outside jumpers as well which can pose problems on NU’s defense.
Jeron will always be a constant for the Green Archers on both ends of the floor. For sure, NU’s defense will still focus on him so it is important for the other guys to help out and make baskets to ensure that NU’s defense will have to pay for focusing too much on Jeron on the defensive end. We may also see a lot of outside attempts from our team this season since we have the players capable of making shots from the outside. It will just be a question of course of what will be plan B if those outside shots won’t fall in so I would say that it will still be better to convert transition baskets then adding up our outside attempts will ensure a good chance of winning every game this season.
I think this is it for now. I am personally excited to see how both teams will show up on Sunday. It may not be the gauge on how a team’s performance will be this season but definitely, a good start always helps out building confidence on a team in a league wherein every game is treated like a win or go home situation one due to the competition. Whatever the result is, always keep in mind that there is still room (lots of it, actually) to improve after Sunday’s game. At this point, it is a long season and I am just hoping and praying that everyone stays healthy and play up to their potential to give it their best shot on the court.
Sit back, relax, and once again, enjoy the ride, since all of DLSU’s teams are trying their very best to get it done this season 78.