It’s that time of the year again wherein the most awaited rivalry will once again take place in the Mall of Asia Arena this Sunday at 4pm.
Finishing their first round of elimination assignments, the Green Archers are looking to blemish the record of the Blue Eagles by giving them their first loss, while the latter will look to keep their record unscratched. From the beginning of the season, much has already been expected from both teams.
After six games, there has been lots of criticisms and expectations, especially when the Archers bowed down to the Fighting Maroons, the team that gave them their first and lone loss so far this season.
Despite the wins and the loss, it’s seen that the boys still have a lot to work and improve on as they enter their last game for the first round. Watching them play from the stands and from the television as a basis, the Taft Avenue squad have three Cs to work on:
It’s no doubt that the players will have their off-days or their off-games. When talking about consistency, it’s not just about the per game play, but also on the per quarter game. If the basis will be on both quarter and game, the boys were more consistent with how they played in their first two games (first against FEU, then NU).
Coming into the third game against the Falcons, the Archers’ consistency rattled throughout the quarters, but eventually came out with the win. As for their game against Maroons, that’s when things started going a bit downhill for them. At the beginning of the game, the Archers were in charge. During the second quarter, onwards, UP took over. From defense to offense, their shots (on the foul line, the perimeter area, and the three-point range), their recovery, they were out of point.
This is something that the fans and supporters have noticed game after game with the boys. They build a big lead, then when the time comes, they slowly become complacent, which causes the opponent to catch up and give them a small scare in taking the lead. Prime evidence: the match against the Red Warriors. What was expected to be a blow-out game by the Green and White became a close game until the dying seconds.
Because of that behavior, what ends up happening is that though they may be up by double-digits, it’s like they still need to catch-up with their opponent to maintain the lead. That would be one of the main things they need to work on, especially with their arch rivals. With players like Thirdy Ravena, Anton Asistio, Chibueze Ikeh, and Tyler Tio, ready to bring points to the board and slash through the defense of their opponents, being complacent is something the Archers cannot be during that game, well in any game for that matter.
They need to maintain that MAYHEM momentum from the moment the ball is tossed until the final buzzer of the game.
What does it mean? It means that the boys need to work on carrying-over the momentum and game that they have made and played from the first half of the game to the second half. What is noticed is that though they could build a strong game and make their opponents play Mayhem ball, sometimes they have trouble starting out the second half the same way they started the first half. Since they are going against their arch rivals, they need to work on this particularly for them avoid any chances of the Eagles to start their own momentum and to suddenly turn the tables.
Other than those three C’s mentioned, the main thing they need to work on is getting back on defense. Ateneo has guards that can run up and down the floor, go from defense to offense quick, and make the most out of their fast break points. The Archers need to avoid leaving a man open, especially on a man-to-man defense. They need to be quicker when it comes to recovering and switching, especially with screen plays. Another part of the defense that they need to work on is their gang rebounding.
They boys need to grab a man to box-out to avoid the chances of the Eagles getting an offensive rebound. This has been one of their sicknesses since their first game. After a shot, they just jump for the ball right away, which leads to the opponent getting an offensive rebound, thus cutting down their big lead. The way they rebound that basketball could also make or break their game if the Archers do not take advantage of their height and their athleticism in and out of the paint. As for the offense, the boys need to make use of the big men they have.
Though Aljun may already be discharged and is already training again, he is still not at his 100%. With Aljun most likely playing limited minutes in the game, everyone must step up, the same way they did in their game against UST. Feeding the big men in the paint gives higher chances for the guards to be open and to either slash through the defense or take the shot. Even if the Archers do have the hot hands from the three-point line, there is still no guarantee that those hot hands will be at their best this coming Sunday. That’s why they should rotate the ball more and feed the big men inside.
The expectations for this Sunday’s game is not going to get any lower. As supporters, the best we could do know is trust the system and decisions that Coach Ayo and the rest of the coaching staff will make, and just continue cheering them on in every game, no matter the outcome.