With a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter with a few minutes left. Victory was for the taking for DLSU from what was then an unbeaten FEU team. Having a sizeable lead and having breached the 70pt rule (All UAAP teams who make 70 points first wins the game) was a sure win. Everyone was in high spirits until the Tamaraw’s clawed back, pushed the game to overtime, and pulled the rug from the Archers. The Green and White gallery was dumbfounded. The 70 point rule was never “ever” broken and oddly enough it was against my team. Similar end game situations followed in the succeeding UE and Adamson games. In my mind, the team did not deserve a championship this year if they played like this.
The FIBA Break
With a disappointing first round and losing as much as 3 close games, the break gave more time for the Coaching Staff particularly Coach Juno Sauler to communicate his vision for the team and work on the costly mistakes in the previous round. When the League leading Tamaraw’s were relaxing, the Taft based squad were working harder than any other team in the league.
LA Revilla became the permanent starting point guard in the 2nd round and the move did wonders to the team. His poise was infections and it calmed down everyone. Rotations were fixed and everyone knew each other’s roles by heart. With the added familiarity the team’s communication was way better. You would see bench players would talk to the starters and vice versa during timeouts. Most of all, the players believed in their coach and from there, everything fell into place.
Free Throw Shooting
The La Salle team was a laughing stock at free throws after the first round after losing a lot of close games lethargic free throw performances. The team showed its composure in the 2nd round and hasn’t looked back since. Winning games dues to crucial free throws has strengthened the team to a point where Jeron Teng already makes more than what he misses. You can now say that La Salle’s free throw woes are good as gone.
When Van Opstal and Torres were locked down by the beautiful defense, Almond and Jeron showed up. When Vosotros checked by Parks, Jeron delivered. With Perkins was saddle in foul trouble by UST, Norbert attacked played his best game yet. This team is playing the best “team” game this season. They have set aside individual glory in order to win even if they were having an off night.
Losing Yutien Andrada during the preseason was a big blow to the team. DLSU’s preseason success was attributed to his defensive performance and his loss changed the fortunes of this team. Once the team learned to live without Andrada during the FIBA break, the defense settled and brought out the best in the team especially in the third quarter.
Who would have thought that Jeron Teng would ask for the ball on top of the key and call a play for Almond Vosotros for a corner three? Nobody. The 2nd round has been revelation on how the Archers have learned to trust each other in both ends of the court. Much of the trust was hard earned after exorcising one game demon after another in the last seven games leading to a 7 game sweep in the 2nd round.
Staring at a slim 2 point lead with less than five minutes to play against UST, I knew in my heart that the Archers would pull through. After going through the roller coaster called the 2nd round, anything less than a win would be a surprise. Because in my mind, this team deserves to win it all.