It continues to be an up-and-down season so far for the Green Archers (4-5) as they once again fall below the .500 mark after last Sunday’s loss to Ateneo. With five games remaining in their elimination round schedule, they have no choice but to go full “must-win” mode to keep themselves in the thick of the fight in this tightly-contested Final Four race.
Their remaining opponents are teams that they are very much capable of beating. Going 5-0 to end the eliminations will give them a very good shot at the number two seed in the playoffs. That quest starts tomorrow as they battle UE (3-7) tomorrow morning.
The Red Warriors are coming off a loss to UP last Saturday but still remain in semis contention.
The last time they faced each other. “Na-Suertehan ang La Salle” but not in a good way. The team struggled to find their groove against a gutsy UE squad but managed to grind their way back to take a two-point lead with under a minute left to play. A three by Rey Suerte put the Red Warriors back up by one with 15 seconds left. On the ensuing play, Aljun Melecio responded with a quick three to give the lead once again to La Salle. With 10 seconds left, Suerte drilled another long bomb which turned out to be the game-winning shot. The Green Archers lost 88-89.
What to Watch For
Rey Suerte and Alex Diakhite. Suerte exploded for 31 points against the Green Archers in round one. Diakhite meanwhile barely played that game as he was recovering from an illness. While both players are the focal point of their offense, expect other Red Warriors to provide the much needed support on both ends. This team likes to play freestyle (bara-bara) which might have caught the Green Archers off guard. La Salle’s defense has significantly improved since then so we don’t expect UE to be “Suerte” this time around.
The Open Court. La Salle’s roster is constructed to thrive in a fast pace style of play. This game is expected to go in that direction and this is where the team can capitalize on their speed and one-on-one skills.
Balti. Despite a sub-par performance last Sunday against the Blue Eagles, Justine Baltazar still remains a walking double-double. We can count on him to match or even surpass his 21-point, 17-rebound outing against UE last month. Not even the presence of Diakhite, who is not much of a defensive threat and is a “foul trouble waiting to happen” can stop him.
Depending on the results of the other matches tomorrow, we can either see the Green Archers go as high as solo third or remain outside of the top four in the team standings.