Even with a 5-1 record, many supporters are extremely unsatisfied with how the Green Archers have been playing lately. Much of the criticisms point to the team’s defense which has not been great so far this season. As it is now, the team is tops when it comes to the number of points they allow their opponents to score at 92.7 on average. While offense has never been a problem, there are concerns as to whether the current approach of winning by outscoring opponents would provide consistent success.
The critics do have a point though. La Salle’s defense has indeed regressed compared to last season. Many have already jumped to the conclusion that with the way the team is playing, it would be difficult to beat a system-driven team like Ateneo. But if you think about it, have we already seen all that is there to see for the Green Archers this season?
Final scores, on most occasions don’t really tell the whole story of the game. Of course, everyone expected the team to win big against a win-less squad like UE. We all thought that would be the case with the Green Archers up by 20 plus points in the fourth. But with the Red Warriors going on a furious run late in the match, Coach Aldin still kept his second stringers on the floor to close it out. Even when the lead was cut down to 6 with a minute left, there was no sense of panic.
Looking at the stat sheet, the team’s starters played significantly less minutes than their norm. Ben Mbala for example averages close to 31 minutes per game but only saw action for 23 minutes. Overall, everyone got their fair share of court action and since they have 3-game schedule this week, it was wise on the coaching staff’s part to give their starters a good amount of rest.
We acknowledge the fact that the team has a lot of work to do on the defensive end. The good thing is that the major pieces that made Mayhem successful last year are still there and on the times they put the clamps, it produced meaningful results. Despite all that has been said on their defense, the Green Archers continue to be the leader in turnovers forced and points off turnovers. Anyway, it is only the first round and with every game that comes is an opportunity to improve and get better.
It was not the dominating finish we wanted but let us not allow ourselves to use this game as basis in defining the Green Archers’ season. Lopsided or not, a win is a win and in a short tournament like this, it makes no sense going full force on a team they will surely not face in the semis or finals anyway. Better to save their best on opponents that they will most likely face more often in the crucial stages of the tournament.
Besides basketball is not just about skills and stats, it’s a game of wit as well. With Ateneo scouts in the arena taking down notes on every move our players make, isn’t it best not to show all your aces right away?
We are eager and excited to see what the Green Archers have in store for us this Sunday as they close out the first round against the Blue Eagles.