[UAAP Season 78] DLSU Green Archers: If they can believe, they can achieve

The stone is set. It has to come down to this. The DLSU Green Archers have one chance to extend this season and it will be against the heavy favorites FEU Tamaraws.

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In the eyes of any casual basketball observer, it was over before it started.

The loss of Ben Mbala and Arnold Van Opstal spelled doom for the green and white squad. Without a legitimate game-changing center, the Archers wouldn’t stand a chance.

Technically, its true. In Basketball, height is always might. No exceptions. With all the other UAAP teams parading a foreign 5, it will be doubtly hard for the undersized squad to contend.

It was quite obvious in the elimination round as the Archers would keep up with the tall teams up until the third period but would eventually be stifled by a rigid zone defense.  The come from behind win by Adamson was the perfect example of this, as Papi Sarr dominated in the end.

In whatever basketball continent you look a dominating center is vital in every campaign. Whether its in Spain with the Gasols or with Drummond and Howard for the US. But this is college basketball and anything can happen.

Looking at the Archers opponents in the final elemination game, the FEU Tamaraws, the task seems to be quite daunting. In the first round, the Tams were matched by the Archers in the first half but the Morayta-based squad shot the lights out in the second half to get the easy win.

It will be hard but if the Archers play their cards right, its a ball game as far as I’m concerned.

FEU has been solely a Mike Tolomia team and everything else seems complimentary at this point. but don’t get me wrong here, they’re really good individually. If there’s one thing odd about FEU’s campaign this year is the unusual snub of Mac Belo on the offense.  Something the Archers can take advantage of.

The NU Bulldogs just fought tooth-and-nail against the Tamaraws to secure their playoff spot for the final four. The SM-backed squad never gave up defensively and offensively for 39 minutes to hack out a win with superb execution in the final minute.

The Archers could learn a great deal from this. They have to understand that they could not give up in any circumstance.  NU didn’t give up which won them the game.  La Salle should to the same until the final whistle. The Tamaraws will make their shots, do spectacular plays. But the Archers should keep up, spectacular or not.

 

In all of the won games for La Salle, Perkins has been the constant presence althroughout. Jeron Teng will get his points, Prince Rivero will get his from broken plays, but the missing link has always been Perkins.

If La Salle focuses on the hefty lefty, it will change the game.  Coming into the season, Perkins was sculpted for a smaller position but circumstances have forced him to be a stretch five.

Yes, a five. He’s been forced to play center (mostly in defense) in almost all crucial situations and that has to stop. The coaching staff must find a way to streamline his excessive defensive duties for him to matter offensively which La Salle urgently needs.

Giving Tratter more minutes would definitely help this cause. It is very hard from a coach’s perspective, but La Salle has no choice but to roll the dice at this point.

Execution has been the bane of DLSU this season and from the way I look at it, all boils down to self belief.  The players this season have had decorated high school careers and all that experience should be enough to make a difference.

The bench in Carracut, Navarro, Tratter, and Larry Muyang should step up to undo this below-par season.  They have the skills but its up to them to deliver. Self-belief is the key.

By now the coaching staff is already working on cutting down the rotation and focusing on the standard and situational plays.  Now its time for the players to adapt and deliver.

La Salle has come in this season under-powered but not unbowed. If they were gonna make history, they should do it one game at a time.

 

If they can believe, they can achieve.

The Curse of the Upgraded UAAP Seat

On the eve of Game 3 of the UAAP Season 77. I can’t help but think that the Final Four loss by DLSU, was on me. “Ako yung malas”. It was not because of Mac Belo, it’s because of my seat, the curse of my upgraded seat.

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It all started in Game 2 of the 2001 UAAP Finals. My friends camped out in Araneta days before the game and scored ‘Upper A’ tickets for our barkada. We were ecstatic going to the game and were happy with our ‘Golden’ Seats. Oddly enough, Ateneo beat us during that game. It was terrible. Getting good tickets and losing a high stakes match was really bad.

The same thing happened in the 2002 final where we also lucky to get Upper A seats in the final, but lost to an Ateneo team who hadn’t won anything since the 80’s. That was when i confirmed that having better seats in a playoff or final match is not a blessing, but a curse.

I thought i broke the curse when I watched a crucial Ateneo La Salle game last year. I ended up in the Patron area and the team beat their rivals easily and eventually became champions that year.

When I met my buddy Chester before the last playoff game with FEU, he mentioned that the Upper B tickets we have could become Upper A. Minutes later, the possibility of getting Patron tickets happened because of the heavy downpour and our friend Drews couldn’t make it. I was a bit excited of the idea of getting prime seats but the idea of what happened during college was a possibility. I shrugged it off as I was confident of the teams momentum.

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The signs where there. The DLSU drums got stuck in traffic and the FEU gallery had a full house. But when Julian Sargent made that three in the fourth, I thought I was gonna break the curse. Then it happened on the last play, the last second, and the last shot.

I was stunned. Mac Belo just made a hell of a shot from the three point line. It felt like being the main character in a Final Destination movie knowing that you were the cause of everything. The curse found a way to get back at me but in a more painful way.

My goal for next year is to break this curse. But in order to break it, I would need the help of the following: Ambassador ECJ, the coaching staff, OSD, and the DLSU Admin. I would like to make an appeal. Please, Maawa kayo. . . Paupuin niyo na ko sa Patron please!

No more bad luck, only championships!

PS

Congratulations to the NU and FEU for making the finals. Only the best teams make it there. Best of luck in Game 3

Top Ten Reasons why the Green Archers should win today

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#10 – Because it’s Coach Juno’s “choice”

#9 – It’s Thomas Torres’ birthday (Happy Birthday Bro!)

#8 – Kevin Ferrer is a douche

#7 – The venue is the MOA Arena (aka 2nd Round Swerte)

#6 – The Lady Archers already won (so no excuses there)

#5 – Kevin Ferrer is not only a douche but also a primadonna

#4 – Jun Limpot will (again) say “We are the Championship!”

#3 – Coach Juno will smile (and maybe crack a joke)

#2 – Ateneo is not in the Final Four (mehehehehehe)

#1 – Boss Danding will give away free San Miguel Beer!!!

Whats your UAAP Sports Superstition?

Coming in to Game 2 of DLSU-UST Finals, I wore the exact same shirt, shorts, shoes, and even socks during the first Final Four game against FEU.  True enough, We (DLSU) won by a convincing margin similar to that game.

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My Buddy (former Green Archer in training) Rich Minerales introduced me those superstitions and rituals while we were in our first year in Taft.  As a football player coming from Bacolod, we were not as superstitious like our basketball counterparts. These guys would bring rosaries, wear lucky basketball shoes, and even tie their shoes a certain way.

Rich acquainted me to such things like ‘winner of the jump ball wins’ which then evolved to ‘first team to make basket wins the game’.  We even formulated the UAAP rule where the first team to reach 70 automatically wins.  This rule was eventually broken by the hot streaking FEU team against (ironically) DLSU in the first round which makes it now just 99% accurate.

I used to have a white UMBRO shirt that I used to wear before in DLSU Football and Basketball games.  The shirt was a good fit aside from its white & green color but I realized that I seem to lose all the games I attend with it.  I initially thought that it was all in my head and that a shirt will never be a factor any game but ultimately gave up when my friends in the Men’s Football team lost a crucial game with them comfortably ahead because of bad luck.  I never wore that shirt again and if memory serves me right, I threw it away.

Looking back in the first game with FEU, I unknowingly put my water bottle in the floor and FEU went on to make a big run. Recognizing this, I put it back on my right side and we won the game comfortably. I was again superstitious the second game of the Final Four against FEU. Because it was a weekday, I was wearing my usual business attire and sported my 2007 Championship shirt over my long sleeved one.  With FEU red hot coming into the third quarter, my superstition switch just triggered and decided to take off the t-shirt.  La Salle made a mini-run but FEU came back with a booming 3 to answer. Desperate for a solution, I transferred my mineral water from the left to my right side.  DLSU came back to win and seal their seat in the Final.

Having been to many UAAP Finals games, me and my brother, Ric Alvin Gayares, have formulated Superstitions of our own.  We have never won a live game in the Araneta Coliseum when we are seated in the Upper Box A section. This happened in Game 2 of the 2001 Finals against Ateneo and in Game 1 of this year’s final against UST.  Never again.  In addition to my superstition list, I brought winning tickets from previous FIBA and UAAP games yesterday, and yeah, we won emphatically.

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In a few minutes after finishing this piece, I am going to the laundry shop to have all of yesterday’s game clothes washed.  In Game 3, I will wear the same clothes, bring all my lucky charms, and pray for a DLSU Men’s Basketball Championship.

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How about you? Whats your UAAP Sports Superstition?

Why La Salle deserves to win it all

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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.

Stability

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.

Team Game

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.

Defense

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.

Trust

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.

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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.