The season is on. The DLSU community is united once again (or are they?). Got a Facebook comment from a close friend, that the armchair coaches are back. Yes!!! That’s part and parcel of our men’s basketball UAAP experience, year in and year out. And yes, we are happy (or again, are we?). Watching our beloved Green Archers lose our first game brought out the best (and worst), of our armchair coaches. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Yes, anyone can analyze, criticize, give suggestions, strategize, or just don’t care.
I am not critical of anyone. To each his own as the saying goes. As for me, I was requested to write about the games, as I saw it, as I analyze it, as I appreciate it, as I enjoy it. So here goes nothing (or something).
That game was actually a very good game for us, sans the result. Having watched the recent Filoil and other preseason tournaments, specially thar game against Ateneo, this result was not a surprise to me. Remember. 60% of the team’s composition is NEW. You don’t build a championship team overnight. You don’t lose grizzled veterans and not expect a struggling process as an aftermath. This game is part of that struggle, part of that process. But struggles are part of winning. And this game in particular shows me that this is a championship team. A championship team-in-process.
Let’s talk strategy. This team has a lot of flexibility. Bigs can play outside. Guards can post up. In the first few plays, big Taane Samuel was set up for two three point shots. That wasn’t an Mbala led option, was it? Bates, Baltazar, and Santillan were ready for the rebounds. Santillan had three point range (and makes). Montalbo, Melecio, and Caracut played their roles. Everthing was fine. Then the Samuel foot injury. Unfortunate, yes. Part of the game, yes. Unlucky, yes, But more importantly, part of the process. Strategy had to change. Play Baltazar and Bates more. Result. Baltazar suffering cramps in the endgame. Bates became part of the offense. He is not there for offense. Jollo Go struggled. Melecio was hot and cold. Coaches dug deep into the bench rotation, trying to find a working combination. Nothing gave us a consistent rythm.
But despite all of these, we stayed close. Close enough to actually win. Then the end game came. Winning time. Championship time. And we were up against a team full of veterans. Tolentino, Iñigo, Tuffin, Eboña, Escoto, Comboy, and Cani. What was the difference? Their roles are well defined. Who takes the shot. Who brings up the ball. Who rebounds. Who passes to who. We used to have that. Teng. Mbala. Torres. Perkins, And yes Montalbo. That team knows how to win. Their team knew how to win. Our present team now has to learn those lessons. We are not going to win without going through that process, without defining our roles. True we lost a lot of great players, for whatever the reasons were. BUT, we have a lot of new, good materials to work with and develop.
So Archers, keep at it. Learn from a well defined role playing team like FEU. Develop your own team identity. We will win the championship when we figure out our roles. Been watching the games for more than _____ decades now (don’t want to give my age). If only for this, may I say trust me. Our future is bright. And….I’m back. Animo!!!!!