4PM – Smart Araneta Coliseum
Previous Encounter – ADMU def DLSU 71-61
They say that when it is La Salle vs Ateneo, you throw away the numbers and records because this game will be decided on “who wants it more”. We will do exactly just that and not anymore discuss the Xs and Os but rather focus on the psychological aspect of the game.
It’s no longer about skill, it’s about will.
Ateneo has had our number for the past 4 years. Talent-wise, clearly they were the better team. We always felt that the Green Archers never lacked the talent to compete and make a good fight. But in big games such as this, it takes more than talent to win. One has to show the heart and courage to go out there and believe that you can beat your opponent despite the odds.
Based on what they have shown so far this season, this La Salle team is perhaps the strongest we have seen in recent years not only in terms of talent, but also mental toughness. Make no mistake about it, this team has a legitimate shot of not only making it to the Final 4 but also compete for a title.
No, we’re not predicting a La Salle win here but one thing is for sure, this game will not be a walk-in-the-park for the Blue Eagles.
The way we see it, La Salle needs to overcome two things if they are to take it to the next level, Fear and Intimidation.
“Do Not Be Intimidated”
There will be many times throughout your days of playing basketball that you have to go up against a superior team and/or a better player. You may be playing the best team in your conference, league, county, or state. You may have to guard against the best player you have ever seen. Maybe one of the best basketball players around has to defend you during a game. If you play basketball long enough, you will inevitably have to deal with these or similar situations. How do you, as a player, handle it?
It is certainly okay if someone who is better than you beats you. However, make up your mind right now that you will not beat yourself by letting someone intimidate you. The next time you play against an overpowering, confident team and/or player, tell yourself that he is going to have to beat you. Then tell yourself to forget about him and play your game one possession at a time.
A confident person expects to win and puts pressure on his competition. However, all you have to do to increase your chance of winning is to put doubt in your opponent’s mind by playing him close or even. If this person or team is not winning or dominating as easily as expected, the doubt will start to creep in. As soon as he doubts himself, his game will weaken. He will more than likely make a couple of mistakes and give you the opportunity you need.
So get mentally strong and look forward to playing overpowering and confident teams. Don’t concern yourself with beating them, just play your game and stay close. Once your opponent starts looking over his shoulder and you are still there, you got him. Self-doubt will force him out of his game and he will end up beating himself. The trick is that you have to play your game. Forget about your opponents and enjoy turning the tables against them.
“Reduce your Fear”
Basketball, as life, cannot be played with fear. Fear is public enemy number one on the list of negative emotions. Thinking about a future outcome causes fear. In turn, fear adversely affects your ability to perform thereby controlling the outcome.
If you think about it, fear cannot exist in the present. Your goal is to execute to the best of your ability. How well you control the present, determines the future outcome – good or bad. It is only when you think about a future outcome that fear enters the equation and throws off your performance.
You can train your mind to ignore the outcome. By focusing on mastering the process, you can stay in the present. Not thinking about the outcome is a huge undertaking and it may not be easy, but it can be accomplished.
You have practiced the game of basketball for countless hours. You have worked hard at developing your shot, ball handling and passing skills, strength and speed. You practice and play as much as you can. You do this to improve your skills, but you also do this to build up your confidence. This confidence will enable you to focus on what you are doing at the moment you are doing it. You will have nothing to fear because you have the skills and you believe in your abilities.
If you fear the outcome (missing a shot, committing a foul, making a mistake) you will lose control of your ability to perform at your best. There is nothing to fear! What is the worst outcome? You miss the shot or make a mistake…big deal. Centuries ago, samurai warriors were highly skilled in the martial arts. To be at their best, they were trained to fight without the fear of dying.
Basketball is a game! It is not a life or death situation. So relax. Learn to have fun on the court and train your mind to stay in the present. If you do, you will have less fear and your game will improve.