The Green Archers clinched at least a playoff for a finals berth with a comfortable 72-59 victory over also-ran Adamson. The victory cemented the Archers’ 9-5 eliminations record, a reversal from last year’s dismal 5-9 performance.
In a departure from past games, the Archers took control of the game from the get-go, scoring the first basket of the game, leading all the way, and allowing the Soaring Falcons (faltering instead of soaring this year) to time the game at 4-all and 6-all before zooming to a 17-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. Norbert turned in an inspired performance, scoring 7 points on a 3/3 fg shooting performance and making a charity while dominating the boards with 7 rebounds. The Archers’ tough defense forced ADU to turn over the ball 7 times in the first 10 minutes, leading to 7 Archer points off these turnovers.
Perhaps lulled by the early success, the Archers returned the turnover favor, also gifting Adamson with 7 and shooting only 3/11 from the field, but only lost the second quarter by 3, 10-13 to preserve the lead at the half, 27-21. Our frontliners took advantage of the undersized Adamson lineup, winning the battle of the boards in the first half, 27-19. Jeron and AVO combined for 11 points in a low scoring first half.
Almond nailed 2 treys in the third to key a strong 22-16 third quarter, with Thomas also sinking a triple to force Adamson to respect our outside shooting by going to a man-to- man defense. This allowed Jeron and Norbert to operate closer to the basket as they both tallied 5 points to tow the Archers to a 49-37 lead after 30 minutes. The last quarter turned out to be anticlimactic, with the Archers content to keep pace with their demoralized opponents, 23-22 in the quarter to sweep the falcons for the first time in a few years.
Does the team still need fine tuning?
Turnovers are still constantly high at 19 against a relatively weaker opponent. We also allowed the smaller ADU players to compete on even terms on the boards, where we only pulled down one more than they did, 49-48, 23 of which were offensive boards. Clearly we need to keep opponents from pulling down their misses if we’re going to beat to get into the playoffs. Our performance from the 15-foot line, while improving in recent games, also needs more improvement. The next games won’t be as easy, margins will probably be smaller and can easily be overhauled as NU did against the Tamaraws today, so we’ll need all the points we can make.
This game marked the re-emergence of Norbert as an offensive threat. He’s always been an able defender in the paint, but after a good first couple of games, his scoring dipped tremendously. His double-double performance (12 points, 14 rebounds) was solid, his shooting from the field impeccable (5/6). Jeron tallied a quiet 19 points, scoring heavily from the stripe as he was repeatedly fouled, making 11/13 to go with 4/11 from the field. Thomas also played a superb game, hitting a high 3/4 from 3point area while making both of his free throw tries.
Almond continued to connect from afar, hitting two treys, and AVO played his usual effective support role in the paint with 5 points and 5 rebounds. Our free throw shooting, while it could be better, has been steadily improving from earlier this season, and against ADU the team tallied 21/30 for 70%..
We achieved the objectives set by the team management, improving on last year’s record. We finished the second round at 5-2 after a 4-3 first round. The team is definitely improving. And next year will definitely be exciting. So now we have a chance at making the playoffs, and it will depend on how we perform in our playoff for the last playoff slot.
We’re up against FEU, loser against NU in their replay this afternoon.
The Tamaraws gave away their game with NU, failing to take advantage of ball possession in the closing seconds of regulation with the score tied, and allowing NU to uncork a 9-0 run in the extension to take the win. A crucial FEU coaching blunder was instrumental in the defeat, as FEU Coach Flores repeatedly gestured to his players to hold on to the ball until the last 5 seconds, forgetting that NU still was not in penalty. Of course, as soon as a Tamaraw made a move to the basket, he was quickly fouled, time down to 3.5 seconds. With that little time remaining, the Tamaraws were unable to get off a good attempt, forcing overtime, where NU took control.
FEU is becoming a one-dimensional team, perhaps leaning too heavily on its’ 1-2 punch in scoring guards Romeo and Garcia. We were able to beat them convincingly in our second round match, but let’s not forget that Arvie Bringas and Belo didn’t play. They won’t be pushovers, but they are vulnerable at this point, and Coach Gee has shown that he knows how to beat them.
The Archers are now proving to be versatile. The team can connect from outside, and hit from inside. The zone no longer terrorizes our shooters. We can play big, and can go small. We have some depth at all positions, and hopefully LA continues his recovery from that ankle injury. It would be a pity if the team stopped here.
So, with the season on the line, all we can say is:
JUST WIN! This is a MUST WIN game. And finally, for the first time this year, KEEP THE fAITH!