PCCL Round-of-8: Archers Surprise Unbeaten San Beda

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What season sweep?

The undersized, undermanned, and unfancied Green Archers eliminated NCAA champion San Beda, 84-74, in a bruising and ill-tempered encounter today. The Archers led most of the way against the heavily favored Red Lions in fashioning out the upset of the 2010 collegiate season. San Beda’s defeat also derailed the much-awaited possible encounter between MVP-supported schools Ateneo and San Beda for the PCCL championship, a matchup which was also touted by some as a battle for supremacy between the UAAP and the NCAA. Trust the scrappy Green Archers to throw a monkey wrench into the plans of the SBC supporters who predicted a blowout win en route to another championship.

Setting the tone early

After allowing San Beda to take a 5-6 lead, the Archer shooters erupted for 3 consecutive triples from Almond, Sam, and Simon to grab the lead and serve notice that they were not to be taken lightly. Active interior defending and switching by our frontliners kept the taller San Beda bigs out of the paint, exposed the weaknesses of the Red Lion perimeter game,  and held them to a measly 2 points for the rest of the first quarter. The Archers stood fast and refused to be intimidated despite the rugged physical play of San Beda. Simon was the recipient of an elbow to the face, and he shook it off to sink the 2 free throws before a Nico Elorde drive and another Sam triple closed off the first quarter, 21-8.

The Red Lions settled down in the second quarter behind the Semerad twins’ scoring to close in at 25-21. Maui went down bleeding after getting hit by a Lanete shoulder, but Simon scored on his 3rd triple to gain some separation at 28-21. However, quick ball rotation around the perimeter and good execution of weak side cut plays allowed San Beda to regain the upper hand at 30-31 with 1:36 left in the first half. The increased concentration on inside passes to Sudan Daniels resulted in Papot and Ferdinand compiling their 3rd fouls, sending them to the bench and forcing Coach Dindo to give Martin Reyes and Aiki Herrera some playing time.

Undaunted by several blocks by the taller and heftier Daniels, Yutien repaid the favor with a block and an undergoal stab, 32-31. On the next play, the game turned nasty as Pascual fouled then punched Sam after Sam collared a rebound. Yutien and Ferdinand rushed to the aid of their teammate as Pascual continued to taunt the Archers. After the smoke cleared, Pascual was assessed a foul and an unsportsmanlike foul, Yutien an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ferdinand a technical foul, his 4th foul. Sam Beda made only 1 ft to tie the game, but Almond beat the buzzer with a jumper, 34-32.

The Archers, the #1 rebounding team in the UAAP, dominated the battle of the boards, 34-20 in the first half, shooting 50% (6/12) from 3point land vs San Beda’s 20% (2/10), but did not shoot so well from closer in, 20% (6/30) vs 9/24.

The 3rd quarter was much tighter, with the lead changing hands several times, and San Beda taking no more than a 1point lead while the Archers managed a 50-45 lead before a closing spurt by San Beda anchored on drawing Ferdinand’s 5th foul saw them close in at 52-49. Oda, scoreless in the first half, started making his presence felt with his bold drives into the paint in defiance of the interior blocking prowess of the much taller Red Lions. The Archers continued their effective use of the zone to stymie San Beda’s interior game, while the press repeatedly ate up the Red Lion shot clock and forced them into hurried jumpers under severe time pressure.

The two teams continued to trade baskets and the lead upto the 7 minute mark, when Oda scored on the break, 59-56. A Marcelo offensive foul was parlayed into a Papot hook in the paint, 61-56, but Papot fouled out on the next play. With the referees calling it much tighter in the second half, Yutien was assessed a technical foul on top of a shooting foul from  which San Beda sank 3 fts to close in, 61-59, and a Daniels inside shot tied it at 61-all, San Beda having scored 5 points in just 24 seconds. Undaunted, the Archers regained the lead when Almond scored on a fastbreak, and good defensive efforts by Yutien and Maui saw San Beda unable to recover a missed shot, prompting a vocal complaint from SBC Coach Lim which netted him a technical.

Ironically, that coaching tantrum was the turning point of the game, as the Archers took that opportunity to step on the gas.  Simon canned both fts, Almond fed Yutien, on a pick-and-roll, then Maui tipped in another Yutien inside attempt, 69-61 with 3:53 left. Almond’s ball handling and penetrations were the key during this stretch, and on the other end the suffocating Archer zone prevented San Beda from getting open looks on offense. Oda scored on another break to restore a double digit margin, 71-61, then another Almond assist to Yutien forced a Red Lion shooting foul, and Yutien made 1/2 for 72-61. On the next play, Yutien blocked Daniels to further demoralize the Red Lions, before a Semerad ft broke the San Beda silence, 72-62. Oda continued his sterling play with a basket, 74-62, intercepted a pass and drove, successfully fishing a Daniels foul where he sank 1/2 fts, 75-62. San Beda’s offensive futility continued under pressure from the Archer defense, and Maui sank 2 fts, 77-62 with 1:26 left.

San Beda called time to map out their last ditch strategy, and they managed to score 5 quick points on a Lanete triple and a layup off an intercept. With a minute left, the Archers were content to trade baskets with the desperate Red Lions, and the game ended with the Archers comfortably ahead, 84-74.

Keys to the win

The early success from the outside forced San Beda to respect the Archer shooters, forced them to play man-to-man more than they would have liked, and opened up the defense for penetrations by Oda, Almond, and weak side cuts by Papot, Yutien, and Maui. Yutien is becoming more effective away from the ball, and had teamed up effectively with Simon and Almond who have been successful feeding him as he sliced through the gaps in the San Beda interior defense. The pressure defense, which some Bedan supporters had been bragging that they had solved several years ago, continued to make things difficult for the Red Lion playmakers by disrupting their dribbling in the back court, forcing them to give up the ball much earlier, eating up the shot clock, and clogging the passing angles into the paint.

The Archers’ aggressive gang rebounding and uptempo game – pushing the ball up whenever possible, prevented San Beda from setting up their defense and capitalizing on their height advantage inside. Despite the towering presence of Daniels, the smaller Archers repeatedly drove the lanes, getting blocked repeatedly, but nevertheless unfazed as they attacked the heart of the SBC defense. And our defense also had its share of morale-boosting shot blocks, with Papot, Yutien, and Maui swatting away or altering several Red Lion shots in the paint. The quick moving Archers even scored more points on the break than the NCAA’s top fast breaking team.

One marked difference between the way the Archers played today and in the UAAP is the relative maturity of the team and their improved familiarity with each other. Where before the players were a bunch of very talented individuals who played together, they now know each other’s moves much better, and the teamwork is now more pronounced.

Lastly, the energy of the team never flagged even though their were missing 5 of their teammates: Luigi (dislocated shoulder), Jovet (severe sprain), Joel (studies), Gab and Spider (abroad).

The Archers play Adamson, which had upset UAAP runner-up FEU, tomorrow in the semi-finals after barely 24 hours’ rest. The Archers had not beaten Adamson in the UAAP this year, so it will be another difficult game. But with the spirit displayed by this crop of Archers, anything’s possible.

Scores:

DLSU (84) – Tampus 16, Atkins 14, Vosotros 13, Marata 12, Villanueva 10, Andrada 9, Elorde 4, Ferdinand 2, Herrera 2, Paredes 2, Reyes 0.

SBC (74) – Dela Rosa 20, Daniel 12, Villahermosa 11, Semerad A. 7, Semerad D. 7, Lanete 6, Caram 5, Pascual J. 3, Marcelo 3, Pontejos 0, Pascual K. 0.

Quarter Scores: 21-8; 34-32; 52-51; 84-74

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