It was one of those days wherein, instinctively, you just seem to know what was going to happen. The first sign was of course, was the reversal of the FEU-NU decision and the Board ordering a replay of that game. The effectively put a new lease on life for the NU Bulldogs, which they parlayed into an inspirational performance by Ray Ray Parks. Parks duplicated his 30 point performance the first time around, and unlike the first game, Jeron Teng failed to keep in step. The 10 point disparity of the two in scoring was the game difference.
First of all, don’t get me wrong with that statement. Jeron played excellent offensive ball also. But no one could beat an inspired, talented, and weighing more heavily on us, LUCKY, Ray Ray Parks and the rest of the Bulldogs. I mean, How many last shot buzzer beaters, after our good defense, can you get? A botched play turned into two points. Time and time again. Well, luck was really on their side yesterday, specially Ray Parks.
Let’s not take anything away from Parks. He really worked hard for it, and to his credit, was not an irk. True that he engaged Almond Vosotros in a trash talking war, but he took it in stride, and parlayed that energy into points for their team. Almond was trying to get under his skin, but really, Ray is a cool customer, and wasn’t rattled. Let’s also give it to Almond Vosotros. That wasn’t dirty trash talking. It was merely to pump himself up, and get the goat of Parks. Almond contributed greatly to our repeated rallies, and once again proved that he indeed, is a marquee player.
It was also a game which saw the return, albeit limited, of LA Revilla. The upside to that was that we had a gauge of our true strength if a healthy LA Revilla was playing. His cerebral approach to the game is really the lacking piece for us at this stage of the tournament. Again, his injury was bad luck on our part. We could have used a lot of his court generalship, specially to set up Norbert Torres.
Norbert has been struggling offensively. He has been well scouted, and thus, well defended for the past few games. He is, however, a defensive fixture for us, thus he is often used. Vosotros and Thomas Torres tried to set him up the best that they could, but LA Revilla’s point guard court vision and passing skills are way above Almonds and Thomas’. Thus, Norbert’s’ set-up passes were in areas where he was just well covered. Again, the three baskets that he made were bank shots, while the rest were direct rim shots (except an off-balanced bank shot underneath the basket, which he missed). 3 of 15 shots, if I am not mistaken. That is 12 opportunities taken away from the likes of Jeron Teng, or an Almond Vosotros, which they could have taken themselves. There lies the reason why we lost.
Arnold Van Opstal, Jovet Mendoza, and Thomas Torres played well. Arnold I think outplayed Norbert in this game. But he made a crucial mistake. Turning his back from the ball during a baseball pitch. That mistake was made at a crucial stretch, when we were rallying and the lead came down to 9 points 50-59. If he had intercepted that pass (that was an easy interception if he had his head turned towards the ball), then we could have had another opportunity to close the lead to 7. I wonder why Tallo wasn’t used. I was glad Tampus was because again, he showed spunk (and a brilliant fast break reverse lay-up bonus).
The play that killed us was the two missed free throws of Jovet Mendoza on deliberate foul by Troy Rosario. In fairness to Troy, it really wasn’t a dirty foul (had in the face of Jovet). But the fouled was above the shoulders, and the referees had to call it. If Jovet had made the two free throws, the lead would have been down to 7, with a chance to cut it to 5 points. That was that though. We got nothing out of the play.
As it stands now, our future is no longer in our hands. We have to win our remaining two games and hope that NU loses one (for us to tie), and two (for us to enter the final four). It isn’t far fetched though. We only have FEU as our top 4 team, but we better be wary of Adamson, as they played inspired ball vs. Ateneo. NU still has FEU and Ateneo to contend with. Two losses, though, and we are out. That UAAP Board decision was really the pits. But they decided unanimously so I guess they, as well as we, have to live with it. Our Board representatives voted for the replay as well, so…….
We are not out of it Archers. It just became a lot more difficult. And interesting. Nobody knows what is going to happen, specially in college ball, so it’s NEVER over until the fat lady sings (I wonder who she really is). So let’s just enjoy whatever the season and our team will bring us. After all, we are STILL in the thick of the fight. We are STILL not out. Therefore, there is still life ahead of us. Support our team. THIS is the time for it.