Why the topic for the game against the UST Growling Tigers on Saturday? We all know that the Green Archers drubbed the Growling Tigers back in the first round. The same drubbing that La Salle used to dish out to UST during the Boy Sablan era in Espana.
But if you will look at it now, I have to say that UST improved a lot from their first-round performances. CJ Cansino became a legitimate rookie of the year candidate, playing an all-around performance from the small forward position, even dishing out a triple double on their last game against UE. He even leads UST in rebounding this so far this season.
Marvin Lee and Henri Subido became deadshots from deep, shooting at will whenever they want to. Whether make or miss, those two will just keep on throwing three-ball attempts for the Growling Tigers.
Zach Huang and Germy Mahinay suddenly became reliable inside operators for UST, fighting tooth and nail against the foreign student-athletes of the other schools. And UST is doing all of these without their own foreign student-athlete, Steve Akomo.
I don’t think the game against UST will be about X’s and O’s. I think our own coaching staff can hold their own against Coach Aldin Ayo. The game on Saturday will all boil down to who wants it more. Remember that UST is also fighting for their own Final Four lives, so I personally expect anything “extra” coming from UST on Saturday.
When I say “extra”, it means extra hustle, effort, energy, physicality and anything that they can use to muster that strength and inspire UST to take this game. Coach Aldin Ayo may not admit it in public, but he’s also hungry for a win over his former team, similar probably to Coach Franz Pumaren’s hunger to get a win over the green and white.
Basically, for La Salle to solidify its hold on 3rd place after the game on Saturday is not to fall in the notion that history will simply repeat itself. As I have mentioned, UST will not lie down on the court and give La Salle the win. The boys must work hard, keyword probably is outwork and outwit UST for 40 minutes and not fall into anything “extra” to lose their focus in the game.
Not to sound like a braggart, but talent-wise, I think DLSU can handle this UST team well, but it is still important to play within the system, follow Coach Louie’s game plan, and not to fall on playing the “talent” game. By saying “talent” game, it means that the boys will go on their own, play selfish, individual brand of basketball. 200% of the time it does not work, and I hope that we do not see this kind of play on Saturday from our wards.
UST loves to light it up from the outside. They will keep on throwing those three-point attempts on offense. But you can’t fall into the trap of just letting UST miss those three-point attempts. UST is also very good on 2nd chance points, so the job is not yet done by just forcing UST to miss from deep. Also, part of the job is not allowing UST to get those 2nd chance opportunities and limit them to one missed attempt on every offensive possession.
La Salle’s taller front line should help control the boards, so it should make La Salle’s guards and forwards’ job a little bit easier on putting pressure on UST’s guards and forwards taking shots from deep particularly Subido, Lee, Zamora, and Cansino.
I won’t be surprised that Huang and Mahinay will try to challenge Baltazar, Santillan, and Bates and probably force La Salle’s big men into foul trouble. But I also expect UST to throw most, if not all their big men rotation to limit La Salle’s inside points production as DLSU has a huge inside points disparity compared to UST.
And it will be important for Baltazar and Santillan to recognize their exit passes once UST sends its help defense every time the both of them attacks the paint. Brandon Bates, which played a brilliant game against a tough and physical FEU squad last weekend is also expected to play another good game on Saturday knowing that he will be literally towering on opposing UST bigs.
The backcourt showdown will be fun to watch. I am not sure if Subido will be back playing but even if he comes back, I think La Salle will be ready to manage Subido’s contributions for UST as Subido also played on DLSU’s first round win over the black and gold quintet.
Marvin Lee will be forced to play two-way on Saturday as I expect him to pick up Melecio on defense. Aljun will try to put pressure on Marvin as well as we all know how prolific Aljun is as a scorer. I will also expect Kib to have time guarding on Marvin Lee and make it difficult for Marvin to get his scoring groove.
One major talking point will be on the small forward position. Joaqui Manuel and probably Mark Dyke or even sometimes Santillan will have their turns limiting CJ Cansino’s imprints on almost anything and everything on the court. I honestly would like CJ to have a poor offensive game not to get into his groove contributing on other aspects of the game.
Cansino is UST’s biggest offensive threat so taking him away from his normal offensive production may help not letting him contribute on other areas and aspects of the game. Personally, Cansino is everything on UST’s offense. He leads the team in assists and also UST’s main source of free throw scoring so limiting his production will be imperative if La Salle wants to win comfortably on Saturday.
Let’s all forget the first-round encounter. I think that the game on Saturday will be different in the sense that there will be more fight that will be seen from UST. As I will repeat, the Green Archers should be aware of this and be ready to increase their intensity and effort to outwork and outwit UST to come out as winners on this game. I disagree to what most have been saying that it will be an easy match for the Green Archers.
Don’t fall into this trap game, Green Archers. This is a winnable game. Go get that important win on Saturday.