Rubbing off on a morale-boosting win against the FEU Tamaraws last Sunday, the Green Archers look to maintain their winning ways against the struggling UP Fighting Maroons tomorrow, 2 pm, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In their last encounter last July 4 at the Mall of Asia Arena, the Archers won their high-scoring encounter against the Maroons with a 96-84 win.
In that game, Jeron Teng and Jason Perkins went for a combined 40 points and 15 rebounds while Almond Vosotros 15 points and 2 assists.
For the Maroons, former Green Archer Joseph Marata had 21 points and 6 rebounds while rookie sensation Kyles Lao added 18 markers.
For the past two games, the Archers showed more efficiency and effective teamwork after buying in Coach Juno Sauler’s system. In their past games, the Archers proved that anyone on the roster can be a threat to the opposition regardless of what combination is present on the floor.
Based from my observations, the Archers have the right mix when it comes to fielding in big or small lineups. It is also pleasant to see that the players have now embraced their designated roles for the team.
Playing at a faster pace compared to last season, everyone saw on how beautifully Vosotros adapted himself at the shooting guard which made him a deadlier perimeter and outside gunner. Also having a good performance for the guard cadets is L.A. Revilla because he is the glue that sticks the team together especially in end-game situations wherein he calmly executes the offense and makes
Another revelation for the team is the rise of Matt Salem. Salem is not the typical under the basket forward as most would say. For the past games, he has fit in perfectly as a stretch forward wherein he would drain a number of outside shots through pick and pop plays.
The frontline for La Salle is also the big factors on why the team is clicking. Given the hustle and blue collar work ethic of Arnold Van Opstal, Jason Perkins, and Norbert Torres, teams are having a hard time scoring inside given the good spacing done by the Archer frontline. What awes the crowd more is the bigs’ improved footwork which confuses opponents especially in pivot situations.
Keys to Victory
Even though the Archers handily defeated UP in the first round, an alarming scenario for that game was its high-scoring duel since the Archers gave up 84 points, their second highest points given to an opponent.
For La Salle to effectively outclass the Maroons, they must focus their defense on its one-two punch of Marata and Lao. In dealing with Marata, La Salle must stick to him whenever he catches the ball since he thrives well in catch and shoot sets. Aside from his outside stroke, the former Green Archer is also effective as playmaker and even drives to the basket on an occasional business. Expect La Salle’s wingmen in Teng, Oda Tampus and Luigi Dela Paz to make life tougher for UP’s hotshot scorer. Meanwhile, in handling Lao, the Archers must continue the pressure and traps that they have been doing for the past games. It has shown that the stingy defense in the backcourt limited scoring prowess of Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, Jericho Cruz, and Ryan Monteclaro in their past games. Given its huge benefit, La Salle must also repeat the effort with UP’s backcourt combo of Henry Asilum and Lao.
A big advantage also favors the Archers when it comes to their front court since UP has a smaller version. In their last game, the frontcourt trio of Van Opstal, Norbert Torres and Perkins simply destroyed UP at will as they got numerous touches and operated freely on the post. They also rendered Raul Soyud and Chris Ball ineffective. To add more, Norbert Torres had a game-high 17 rebounds.
No way to go but up
Even though it has been a wild ride for the Diliman-based cagers, expect the Archers to not take the game lightly as they did in their past games. The team must grab this opportunity to hone their chemistry better, improve their shot selections, and establish better decision making.