In this Men’s basketball season ending summary, I wanted to be as comprehensive as possible, not only to explain what happened but also guide us on our plans and actions next year. So guys, please bear with me. Let’s do analysis in it’s purest form. Breaking it down (that’s it’s literal meaning btw).
A. The Pre-season
Guys, if you are a true fan of the team and if you have the time, watch pre-season games. In every story or saga, there is a beginning, the body of the story, and the ending. This is one problem with the trolls and those that watch only during the season. When your comments are posted, I actually know who watches pre-season games or not. In other words, your storyline is not complete. You only watch the end saga, like Return of the Jedi or Return of the King.
In pre-season tournaments, we first get glimpses of our players in waiting. Players like Neil Tolentino (yes guys. UE’s pesky guard who was with us two seasons ago and killed us in that UE first round game, that crucial game), Christian Manaytay, Don Lim, Escandor, Ralph Cu, Joshua David (a Greenie with a pesky defense and a corner three, Paraiso 2.0). I will bet a significant number of you never heard of these names.
This is important because you get a glimpse of the player inventory, as well as the coaching philosophy, reactions to situations, player development, and a lot of other information. In scientific terms, it’s our laboratory to conduct experiments under a competition format. Scrimmages are totally different. This is just the preparation and planning phase.
And, what did these experiments yield this year? We finished runners-up to San Beda in the Fil-oil, and to NU in a pocket tournament in Davao. The results are actually unimportant but their finishes were very impressive because in the Filoil tournament, we were never complete at any given time, and the third tallest player after Brandon Bates and Justin Baltazar was Ralph Cu. I called it the team from Lilliput. In Davao, our one and dones played with the team for the first time.
B. The One and Dones and Recruitment Qualifications
As a perfect segueway, the Filoil tournament was to my mind, the tournament wherein management decided to search for our one and done players. That was why during the UAAP, I was surprised that some of the community were up in arms about this.
First of all, we were not the first team to use them. National University was and it was last year with Troy Rike. Nobody gave a hoot about that. But when we used it this year, there was an uproar, and it was amongst US, of all people.
Secondly, it was not the long term strategy of management. It was a band-aid solution to one problem. Length and height at the 4 and 5 spots. This was very evident during the Filoil tournament. BTW, we lost only two games in the Filoil, and they were against teams with very good, tall, and lengthy 4s and 5s.
Thirdly, remember that even in volleyball, these two years are the k12 batches. Remember Coach Ramil de Jesus also had to get a one and done player, Des Clemente, because his player inventory were completing their senior high school requirements. So, the recruitment supply directly from high school was not there, and getting filam one and dones was the fastest option.
Fourthly, recruiting local talent is a very challenging task for our school now, specially because of our very stringent academic requirements. Some know it alls will argue that we house most of our players in a course called sports management accusing it an “easy” course.
Well bash all you want because it’s a business course transcending to sports management as major. We all know how difficult a management course in La Salle is, specially the accounting, economics, and business management subjects. And teachers will not give it to you because you’re an athlete. Because of the academic challenges, the team has an Academics Coach in it’s employ. Btw the present one is a good friend.
Those in direct management of the team are free to correct my analysis. These are my observations, and I’m not part of management. But the point is I can surmise because I watch pre-season tournaments. You should as well.
C. Team Chemistry, Coach and Management Continuity
In an episode of Sports Desk of CNN hosted by Coach Charles Tiu, he usually asks the community if we have any questions to his guests, and this was the exact concern I raised for him to ask coaches JB and Gian, his guests for that day.
Well history has proven my concern correct as only one of our three one and dones assimilated well with the team. Guys, there are no shortcuts. It takes years to form a team, and only if a core is in place can continuity and consistency, and excellence can be enjoyed again. Coach Franz Pumaren was a pleasant exception, because he was a coach before his time. For those who remember, we were USTs favorite whipping boys at that time. So, let’s honor him for that.
Remember that even Ateneo suffered decades of trying to find the right coach for them, and they had an illustrious gallery of coaches. Imagine, the names of the Maestro, Baby Dalupan, Joe Lipa, Joel Banal, Sandy Arrespacochaga (who serves as assistant coach), finally with one coach that fit them, Norman Black, then an unsuccessful stint of Bo Perasol. Now they have another coach that fits them in Tab Baldwin. They suffer from the same toxic community as we have when they don’t win. Well, enough of them.
The point is our coaching staff composition and management must be long term, even if they don’t win yet. We have to change our mindset on this. We are a proud school, with an excellence driven management and alumni. But we have to swallow bitter pills before this losing illness goes away. Believe me it will go away.
D. Illness and Injuries
Loving the continuity of my segueways? Hahahaha. A little humor just to keep you awake. I really want to be as comprehensive as possible with this summary so that moving forward, we should be all on the same page.
As you know, almost all our players contracted the flu, either at the same time or sequentially. Furthermore, this was complicated by injuries, for instance, to James Laput and more importantly, Encho Serrano. From the time he injured his ankle early into the tournament, he had been practically playing in pain on one leg. Laput never returned.
In the second UE game, at least six players played sick, and in the UP Ynares game just concluded, Andrei Caracut and Brandon Bates were playing sick.
This is first hand information guys. Brandon needed rehydration and electrolyte replenishment, and was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t move after the game. No kidding!!!!
Now you may say, excuses, excuses. We should not blame our losses on these. We should not baby our players.
But a lot of you failed to realize one thing. Because of the upcoming SEA Games, the UAAP schedule was crammed. Thus, ailing and injured bodies had very little or no time to recover properly, wouldn’t you say so? So these kids actually played a HEROIC season, won’t you agree?
The more intriguing question to me, however is WHY did it happen? I mean other teams did not suffer from this.
Wasn’t there an investigation conducted on the source of the illness? It had to start somewhere. We should know because it affected the whole team, the whole season. And as short as this season was, our chances of advancing just went. We wasted it.
E. Discipline Issues
Now it’s getting interesting, but beforehand let me point out that whatever I write about this is conjecture, pure speculation, blind analysis, maybe factual or not. I am not a team member.
But some of you know, so you can tell me off also.
Contracting illnesses can be functions of exposure to somebody who is ill, carried by disease carriers like mosquitoes, flies, the surroundings, or a dip in the body’s immune system due to over exertion, stress, lack of sleep, intake of unhealthy food and drinks, and anything that the DOH or your local doctors say.
Is the lack of discipline on the players, maybe the remiss of duty of the quarter masters, lack of rule imposition, some of the reasons or what? Is it pressure in social media? Are all of these related to discipline? Are some players feeling pressure?
Well, there it is. A throw in the wind to ponder on. Only those in the know, know. You know why a player and our consultant cried. So if there are issues, it can be addressed right? All we can say here is address it. There is no work around.
F. Social Media
Now here’s a double edged reality. I really miss the days when you can quarter a player, impose discipline, shut out the outside world before important games.
And what about sites like these?
Used in the correct way, social media can be a very helpful learning and research tool, an entertainment haven, a personal connection with people. But give the medium in the hands of trolls, know it alls, holier than thous, kots’, scum, and filth, there lies the problem of team and player management.
You and I know that these comments affected a lot of our players. Hell, they responded to them in interviews. Some were negatively affected, but one should be the teams role model. Brandon, “the Master” Bates (hey I didn’t give this monicker to him. Don’t look at me. Hahahaha). Took the “useless” monicker given to him by a troll, and took out the “less” in his game. Now, watch out for him in the coming seasons!!!! Good job mate!!!
So what does the team do about social media during the season? Impose a ban, limited use, establish an administrative page for them, what?
Or establish guidelines like tapering use of gadgets as the season progresses, and accountabilities for violation of those guidelines? Sounds like censorship? Violation of freedoms? Or looks like team discipline?
G. Team and Personal Management
What about team counselling sessions, coach and player relationships, suggestion boxes? You know, we have to battle the negative side of social media and establish father and son, teacher and mentor relationships between players, coaches and management.
Really, because we just saw what happened this year. Hey I also know first hand that a team (another league), employed meditation gurus, zen masters, to relax their players as a detox technique. Great idea don’t you think?
H. The Rise of the Green Archers
Now we come to our title. Our goal actually. Anything else I left out? Any other things on your mind? Go ahead.
Do you believe we can turn this around? Of course YES.
We did it before remember? During the UST bridesmaid years. Four looooong years. It took the right coach, the right discipline, the right players, the right system, and the right motivators to turn it around.
Guys it’s really simple. Comment properly. Suggest politely. Teach correctly. Discipline appropriately. Balance your lives. Work hard. Study hard. Then detox cleanly. Chill. Take care of your body. And oh, respect your elders and most importantly, PRAY!!!!!
Hey. I was varsity team too (chess). Stressful sport mind you. Five to six hours of intense analysis. That’s just the game, not the training. So long hours plus study. I know!!!!
That’s why I write. To support our athletes. To support the school. And hey. Writing is MY detox. Everybody happy. That’s the key. Happiness.
Thanks for the season. Thank you to Jamie Orme Malonzo, Keyshawn Keys Meeker, James Laput, and most specially, Andrei Caracut. Played 5 years under 4 coaches, and played sick in the UP game. If that’s not a heroic Green Archer, I don’t know who is.
God willing, see you all next year.
Animo La Salle!!!!!