One down, two to go.
Miraculously avoided what could have been the worst meltdown ever witnessed last Wednesday, the Green Archers (6-6) remain very much in control of their semis destiny. They are two wins away from at the very least, forcing a playoff for the remaining three spots.
The Fighting Maroons (8-4) meanwhile would only need to win one of their two remaining elimination round matches to secure the twice-to-beat.
The last time they faced each other. La Salle was in control of the match right from the start. However, turnovers, missed free throws and defensive lapses down the stretch enabled UP to snatch the win.
What to Watch For
Brandon Bates. He has been stepping up big this season especially on the defensive end. He finished with 10 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks against UST. He will have his hands full though containing Bright Akhueti today.
UP’s Clutch Players. We can expect Kobe Paras and Akhueti to get their usual numbers but it is guys like Jun Manzo and Juan GDL who play an integral part to their success this season. All of their wins so far have come in grind-out fashion and both have been making the big shots and plays when the game is on the line.
Free Throw Woes. It is no longer surprising to see La Salle last in free throw shooting (53%). They were in fact just 11 of 26 against UST, something we can look back with extreme disappointment had they lost that game in the end. We honestly think that this problem can no longer be addressed this season so we just hope the coaching staff can make this a priority in their (long-term) player development and recruitment.
Start a Winning Run. What is actually surprising is that La Salle has only won consecutive games just once this season and the longest win streak is just two. Even the less-talented teams before have manged to win like three or four in a row.
There is no better time than now to finally kick-start a winning run that would propel them to the semis.