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    0 61

    After the smoke cleared in Ateneo’s Blue Eagle Gym, the De La Salle Lady Archers came out as victors in a gritty 56-50 win over the UST Tigresses to open up their own title defense campaign in UAAP Season 77 Women’s Basketball competition.  It was a rematch of an also-equally tightrope Season 76 Final Four game where we saw then-rookie Camille Claro’s buzzer-beating trey to send the game to OT and eventually giving the Lady Archers the ticket to the finals (and we all know what happened next).

    This was a good test this early in the season because UST is considered as one of the title favorites after finishing runners-up to NU in the 2014 FilOil Flying V Pre-Season Cup and the Tigresses also won the the Father Martin’s Cup in the women’s division this past summer.  UST is also coming back with an almost intact line up from last season compared to DLSU who lost one of its prolific players in Ara Abaca.  Almost all coaching staff of the other six schools were also in the venue to scout how both teams looked like.

    The first half was a feeling out portion for both teams.  UST took an early 7-0 lead but DLSU’s defense tightened up, forcing UST to take hurried shots and give up the ball easily on the dribble and that enabled the Lady Archers to take a 10-7 lead towards the end of the opening quarter.  Most of DLSU’s points came from the fastbreak, making UST pay for their own mistakes.  UST was able to score because of their hustle and activity on the boards.  Those second chance points made UST stay close in the opening period courtesy of Lore Rivera.

    Come second quarter, Maica Cortes’ presence for UST suddenly changed the tide of the game for a little bit.  DLSU had to focus their defense inside the paint and that left some UST players open for easy baskets underneath.  The Lady Archers also made passing errors giving UST baskets on the break which transformed a 20-17 deficit to a 24-20 lead nearing the end of the second quarter.  Trisha Piatos’ lone three-ball in the first half cut UST’s lead to 24-23 which was also the half time score.  Free throws also hurt DLSU in the first half as they were 0-for-6 while UST went 5-for-10 from the charity stripe.

    In the third period, Coach Tyrone Bautista did shuffle his players more by making timely substitutions.  First, he made sure that Inna Corcuera and rooke Jamie Roxas were fresh enough to bang bodies with UST’s Cortes to negate their presence inside the paint.  Eventually, Cortes got tired and was not able to move around that much compared in the first half.  In the backcourt, Coach Ty shuffled Miller Ong, Piatos, Garcia, Vergara, and Claro to make sure that the Lady Archers can push the ball on the break and they can still trap and do their full-court pressure defense.

    Piatos, Corcuera, and Vergara keyed a crucial run in the third quarter to give DLSU a 39-29 lead and the Lady Archers never looked back actually after getting that lead.  The Lady Archers outscored the Tigresses, 18-9 to take a 41-33 lead entering the final period.  UST looked lost in the quarter as they tried to play up tempo on offense since they are trying to cut and catch up on DLSU’s lead but instead, that tempo backfired on them as it resulted to turnovers and allowed DLSU to get their offense going.

    The final quarter was a test of mental toughness for the Lady Archers as they got into penalty situation early with seven minutes to go in regulation.  The referees were just trigger happy for the Lady Archers as they whistled every time a contact was made.  It was evident in the free throw disparity as the Tigresses attempted for 36 free throws the whole game but unfortunately, Coach Chris Cantonjos’ wards converted only 13 of those freebies from the 15-foot line.  DLSU, on the other hand was awarded only with 10 free throw attempts (converting only 3) amidst the physicality of the game.

    In the final period, Nicky Garcia fouled out with five minutes left while Miller Ong also fouled out with two minutes left in the game.  However, the Lady Archers stayed tough on top of these challenges and warded off every UST rally.  Whenever the Tigresses threatened, Piatos always had an answer.  The fifth-year veteran, drilled in four of her five treys in the second half to thwart every UST effort in the second half.  She finished the game with 23 points (18 in the second half) with 5-of-10 shooting from long distance and she was also 4-of-5 from two-point range.

    Camille Claro iced the game by sinking both her free throws after she got fouled by stealing off UST’s cross court pass in the closing seconds of the game.  The Lady Archers’ next assignment is against the FEU Lady Tamaraws on Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 11:00am in Ateneo’s Blue Eagle Gym.  The FEU Lady Tamaraws also scored a win in their opening game against the UE Amazons, 52-37 via April Siat’s 15 markers.

    Box Scores:
    DLSU 56 – Piatos 23, Garcia 9, Vergara 8, Claro 6, Melendres 4, A. Ong 2, Roxas 2, Corcuera 2, Castillo 0, M. Ong 0.

    UST 50 – Reyes 14, Rivera 11, Felisarte 10, Cortes 8, Magdaluyo 4, Siapoc 3, Penaflor 0, Angeles 0, Mandilag 0, Isanan 0, Brillantes 0.

    Quarter Scores: 14-12, 23-24, 41-33, 56-50

      0 59

      The UAAP ushered Season 77 with a universe-themed party. Eight huge spheres hanging from the rafters could have easily been disco balls with they way the defending men’s basketball champions, De La Salle University danced and boogied its way to a huge 13 point lead, 23-10 versus Far Eastern University at the end of the first period.

      The Tamaraws were caught dancing with two left feet, getting into early penalty while only converting three field goals. Much to the delight the Green and White gallery, La Salle got its inside and outside game going, even converting nine of 10 free throws.

      Even the La Salle coaching staff were dressed to the occasion, wearing matching white jackets with green ties and pants.

      After the first 10 minutes, the music changed and suddenly the Tamaraws were able to keep in step with the moves of the Green Archers. DLSU head coach Juno Sauler inserted his bench players to start the second period, and it seems like his reserves forgot their routine, slowly surrendering their big lead. A combination of bad habits and a determined and dangerous foe, La Salle dropped its first game, 77-82.

      The Archers could not keep to the FEU beat, trailing in every quarter after the first, 14-23, 22-24, 18-25, with Mac Belo scoring 13 of his total 20 in the first half while Mike Tolomia scorching La Salle’s perimeter defenders in the second half with 20 points.

      DLSU last led, 69-67, but primarily called to isolation plays down the stretch. Far Eastern meanwhile started out cold from the outside, but their dribble-drive offence finally clicked in the payoff period, extending their first round dominance over the Green Archers to six years.

      Should you and I be worried? I, for one am glad that the expectation to sweep – this early in the season – is over.

      Coaches of the other seven member schools pegged La Salle as the obvious favourite this year and clearly the target is on DLSU’s back. It might be opening game jitters, overconfidence, or a simple lack of focus, but it’s good for the team to play with some sort of chip on their shoulders.

      If history is any indication, the Green Archers also lost their opening assignment last year against University of Santo Tomas, 58-63.

      These may not bring a smile to coach Juno’s face, but he should be happy with:
      Rebounding. Except for a stretch in the second quarter when FEU scored on three straight putbacks in a span of one minute, La Salle pounded the boards just like last year. The Archers grabbed a total of 49 rebounds (19 offensive) against 34 (12 offensive) for the Morayta squad.

      The backcourt of Thomas Torres and Kib Montalbo. Hardly missing veteran guard, LA Revilla, Torres and Montalbo combined for 15 points, three rebounds, one assist with only two turnovers. Thomas hit a crucial three to trim the lead, 74-77, 1:49 left in the fourth while Kib showed an improved game and more confidence from his rookie campaign last year.

      Passing big men. The La Salle frontline made timely decisions when the double team came to them. Almond Vosotros benefitted from those kick-out passes, getting open looks to go three out of six from 3-point range.

      With coach Juno’s philosophy of improving game by game, he should first focus his sights on:
      Mid-range game. It was frustrating to see big man Arnold Van Opstal struggle to score against a smaller player in Carl Cruz. After his initial defender, American Anthony Hargrove picked up his third foul early in the second period, Cruz was the primary defender of AVO. Instead of waiting for the double team or maneuvering his way inside, a shot stab or a 12-foot bank shot would have been pretty unstoppable.

      Jeron seem to improve his three-point shooting at the expense of the other aspects of his game. Last year’s finals MVP was 2/3 from the rainbow territory but shot a paltry 2/12 from two-point range. Teng was also featured in a lot of unnecessary isolation sets late in the game, resulting in poor shots and contested fade-aways.

      The bench. Stretch-forward Matt Salem was given zero playing minutes. With Jason Perkins in foul trouble and misfiring all four of his three point attempts, the sweet shooting Salem could have given space for Van Opstal and Teng to operate.

      It was also alarming to the amount of minutes Vosotros played, with the 5th year guard playing 36 out of a possible 40. Sophomore Robert Bolick and rookie Julian Sargent were the primary relief players. While Sargent gave a solid effort, Bolick, in limited minutes, launched an ill-advised 3-point shot followed by a bad pass in transition.

      Need we say it again, freethrows. It already sounds like a broken record. Everytime one of our front court players, not named Perkins, I clasp my hands to say a little prayer. Jeron and Norbert Torres missed three of four in the last minute of the game when the Green Archers were trailing by four, 77-81.

      The boys should not be found wanting focus in their next match-up against the Ateneo Blue Eagles. It’s time to start acting like the defending UAAP champions  because the rest of the pack are ready to take away the trophy from Taft.


        1 75

        The De La Salle Green Archers received a wake-up call on Saturday evening, dropping its season opener to the FEU Tamaraws, 82-77, at the Araneta Coliseum.

        DLSU led by as much as 13 in the contest, but a second half explosion by Tamaraws star Mike Tolomia helped FEU rally back and win the contest.

        Almond Vosotros led the Taft-based squad with 18 points, while Jeron Teng tallied 14 markers and four rebounds.

        Jason Perkins finished with 11, but fouled out and missed all of his attempts from 3-point range. As a team, the Green Archers went 7-of-24 from downtown, and missed 10 of their 30 attempts at the free throw line.

        La Salle raced off to a quick start, leading 23-10 at the conclusion of the first quarter following a Vosotros trey.

        However, the Tamaraws rallied in the second period, forcing DLSU to turnovers and getting within four, 37-33, at the half.

        DLSU outrebounded their opponents, 42-34, but had 16 costly turnovers that led to nine points. The team also got only 18 points from its bench.

        La Salle led by two entering the fourth period, but 13 straight points by Tolomia spearheaded the Tamaraws’ final assault. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Tolomia connected with Carl Cruz on a pick and roll play that extended the lead to four and put the game out of hand.

        Rookies Prince Rivero, Abu Tratter, and Julian Sargent each had two points in their debuts, while Terrence Mustre did not see action.

        FEU: Tolomia 23, Belo 20, Escoto 13, Cruz 11, Pogoy 6, Inigo 4, Jose 3, Hargrove 2, Denila 0, Escoto 0, Dennison 0, Tamsi 0.

        DLSU: Vosotros 18, Teng 14, Perkins 11, Torres 9, Van Opstal 7, Montalbo 6, Torres 6, Tratter 2, Sargent 2, Bolick 0, Andrada 0.

        Quarter Scoring: 10-23, 33-37, 57-59, 82-77.

          4 141

          The Green Archers’ amazing title run in UAAP Season 76 is now a thing of the past. It’s a clean slate once again but this time, the hunter is now the hunted so expect the 7 other teams to put it all in the line to prevent us from doing it again. The skills and pieces are there and it’s all up to our team to prove that last year was no fluke and are determined to extend their reign over the league.

          As La Salle’s UAAP title defense officially starts tomorrow, we listed 14 things we would like to see from them this season.

          Yutien Andrada

          1. Better freethrow shooting

          Yes this has been repeatedly clamored for the past so many seasons and until now, the Archers continue to struggle from the foul line. Last season, they were 60.9% from the stripe, only 5th in the league in that category. We long for the day that they would achieve at least a 70% clip collectively.

          Green Archers

          2. No more playing catch-up

          We can probably call the Green Archers the “Comeback Kings” of the UAAP. They were 5-2 last season in games wherein they were trailing to begin the fourth period. The 9-3 record when they are leading just shows that the team is better off when they don’t start the game listlessly.

          Jeron Teng

          3. For Jeron Teng to shoot more jumpshots

          We may have seen him shoot a couple of outside shots here and there but most of his points still come from those inside incursions. Coach Juno was quoted in the presson saying that we should expect Jeron to take more threes this season. He actually attempted a lot during the FilOil tournament .

          Thomas Torres

          4. A steady backcourt

          The leadership, stability and toughness that LA Revilla brings will surely be missed this season but we are confident that Thomas, Kib and Terrence have what it takes to fill in the void.

          Norbert Torres

          5. A breakout season for Norbert Torres

          Nothing would be more satisfying than to see The Bear end his UAAP career with a flourish. He had to hibernate for close to three years before he can play in the UAAP and when he did, he had to go through the process of converting his game from perimeter (He used to play the 2/3 spot back in Canada) to low post. There were offensive struggles but we can’t discount the fact that he did well on the defensive end (2nd in the team in rebounds and block shots). It’s about time The Bear plays bullish.

          Green Archers

          6. Overconfidence

          We have seen this in the past and sometimes those setbacks against lowly teams made a significant dent on the team’s hopes whether it be for a playoff or a higher seed. We saw some games last season where the team struggled to pull away against the cellar dwellers of the league. It’s all about playing with the same high level of intensity regardless of opponent.

          Almond Vosotros

          7. A Mythical 5 spot for Almond Vosotros

          From those floaters off a power dribble to being a crafty three point threat, Almond‘s game has certainly evolved since his rookie year back in 2010. Would anyone doubt that he is perhaps one of the best shooting guards in the league? A spot in the mythical team would be a fitting end to his collegiate career.

          Yutien Andrada

          8. For Yutien Andrada to have a successful return

          Sidelined for the whole of last season due to injury, a bulked-up Yutien returns to the Green Archers for his final year of eligibility. We are ecstatic to see him again on the court patrolling the shaded area.

          Green Archer Rookies

          9. An immediate impact by the rookies

          Back in 2003, JV Casio, Ryan Arana and Jerwin Gaco provided valuable contributions in just their first year to a then rebuilding La Salle team. They were perhaps the best group of Green Archer Rooks in recent memory who made an immediate impact. Will this batch be the same or even better?

          Arnold Van Opstal

          10. For AVO to be a legit force in the paint

          Arnold has taken huge strides every year with the Green Archers. Last year saw AVO jack up his scoring average en route to being named Most Improved Player. His potential remains high and we expect more big things from him for the next two seasons.

          Julian Sargent

          11. The Return of the full-court press

          The team might want to try it from time to time especially against teams with a shallow and inexperienced backcourt. It was such a joy to see all those interceptions and quick two’s as a result of this stingy defense back in the day.

          Jason Perkins

          12. The Continued emergence of Jason Perkins

          Jason was the X-factor in last year’s campaign. He is that type of player the Green Archers were longing to have – a consistent low post threat with a nifty touch from the outside. His heft and versatility pose matchup problems for the opposing team. He averaged 12 points and close to 10 boards last season wherein he was part of the mythical selection. He will continue to be a vital cog to the team’s title defense.

          Terrence Mustre

          13. A lot of threes

          The Green Archers last season racked up 377 attempts from beyond the arc (146 more from the previous year) and making 100 (2nd in the league behind FEU). Likewise, their perimeter points jumped from 315 to 492 with an average of 26 per outing. We could see the “Allan Caidic effect” working here. Let’s rain ‘em those threes.

          Juno Sauler

          14. Coach Juno smiling more often

          I mean seriously , who wouldn’t?

            0 121
            green archers

            It’s an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure, used primarily in the field of meteorology, hardly having anything to do with dribbling an orange ball and putting it through a hoop ten feet above the ground, and yet it’s something that one of the opposing coaches branded the Green Archers heading into the UAAP’s 77th Season: A barometer.

            About a year ago, La Salle stumbled into the Hunger Games-themed opening ceremonies of the UAAP facing a lot of questions: They had fizzled out of the Fil-Oil preseason tournament after a fast start, lost Yutien Andrada to an injury, and had a coaching change three weeks before the season. Now, they are fresh from winning that same tournament and have welcomed Andrada back into their line-up. And that sudden coaching change? It worked out pretty well, since Juno Sauler was able to deliver the UAAP Championship trophy back to Taft Avenue after seven years.

            This year, they’ll have the same group of guys, with only LA Revilla leaving the team to turn pro. Jeron Teng, fresh from a Finals MVP performance, is only on his third year, and seeing him nail jumpers and three-point shots in the preseason means that he improved one dimension of his game. Almond Vosotros, who always seemed to show up whenever La Salle needed him, will be back in his final year. Jason Perkins, Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, Thomas Torres, and the rest of the team’s championship core will likewise be back. Only this time, they’ll have something they didn’t have before: A year of championship experience.

            The team didn’t exactly rest on its laurels during the offseason either, as they will be parading four rookies along with the returning Andrada. On the sidelines, joining Sauler as one of his assistants will be Freddy Abuda, a former player and assistant of the Brgy. Ginebra Kings in the PBA.

            Back in October, on the cramped stage in the midst of the Henry Sy. Building, while everyone basked in the warm glow of La Salle’s victory, Sauler made a promise: “We will be better next season.”

            And you only need to glance at the team’s line-up, its players, and their performances during preseason tournaments to know that he intends to keep this promise.

            Quick Questions:

            1.) Prince Rivero, Terrence Mustre, Abu Tratter, and Julian Sargent. That’s a pretty talented batch of rookies who will be suiting up for La Salle. What can we expect from them?

            Sargent has seen the most minutes and made the most impact for the team during the preseason, averaging almost five points, three rebounds and an assist in 16 minutes of action. He can play the two and three, and can be utilized as a perimeter defender. That block on Baser Amer’s step-back three-pointer during the Finals comes to mind. Tratter only averaged seven minutes a game, but still put up two points and two boards.

            Rivero, an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the NCAA, normed two points and 1.6 rebounds a contest in nine minutes, while Mustre scored 1.6 points and grabbed 1.3 rebounds in almost nine minutes. These players only suited up for limited minutes, but as Sauler figures out his rotation, expect their roles – and contributions –to increase as the season progresses.

            2.) How will the team blunt the impact of the loss of LA Revilla?

            Revilla’s scoring will be somewhat easy to replace, since he put of only about five points per contest, although he did increase those numbers to 15 during the back-to-back games against the Tamaraws in the Final Four. It’s his leadership and stability at the point that La Salle will miss. Thomas Torres will likely take his slot in the starting line-up, something he already did in a few games last season and in the preseason.

            He has already upped his numbers during the Fil-Oil Cup, averaging almost nine points (fourth in the team), four rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes, though his two turnovers per contest is something of a concern. Kib Montalbo, Terrence Mustre, and Robert Bolick will also likely see time on the floor, with Montalbo already spending about 15 minutes per game.

            Look for Vosotros to likewise be tasked with the ballhandling duties, especially in the game’s dying minutes, something he has already done before. He rarely turned the ball over during the preseason (just 1.1 per game in almost 28 minutes of play), ranked second in the team in assists (behind Teng), and always seemed to make the right decision when the leather is in his hands – and even when it wasn’t.

            3.) Health-wise, how prepared is this team for the long-grind UAAP Season?

            It’s true that some of their players missed games during the preseason because of injuries. Jason Perkins missed their first game against UE, Kib Montalbo missed their game against JRU, and Thomas Torres was out during the three games they played in Cebu. Some players have also been reported to miss a practice session here and there, but all those injuries have been minor and should be of no major concern.

            4.) They won the UAAP title last season, before following it up with the PCCL title last December and the Fil-Oil Championship this summer.  We should be confident about our chances of winning back-to-back, right?

            Not if your coach preaches the Gospel of Constant Improvement like Sauler does. La Salle did manage to win the Fil-Oil crown, but the road to the title was not a smooth one, not by a longshot. During the eliminations, they were down by as much as 17 at the half against the JRU Heavy Bombers, ultimately losing by one, 68-68. Later on, they lost to the Perpetual Help Altas, 98-95, even after leading by as much as 20. And how did the Altas put up 98 points on the scoreboard? One of their players, reigning NCAA Rookie of the Year Juneric Baloria, torched the nets for 43 points, 22 in the fourth.

            And before they mounted a comeback against the San Beda Red Lions in the Finals, they were down for most of the game, their offense sputtering against the San Beda defense before they figured things out in the payoff period. La Salle’s defense was stingy at times during the preseason, but the team also had a tendency to relax. Turnovers and a low field goal percentage have also plagued the team even during their wins. Most people forgot about these losses the moment they hoisted the Fil-Oil trophy, but Sauler and the rest of the Archers’ coaching staff are not most people, and are already looking for ways to address these issues.

            5.) Which teams could challenge La Salle for Final Four slots and the title?

            UST lost its best player and coach, but still has the likes of Karim Abdul, Kevin Ferrer, and Aljon Mariano, along with newcomers who could make an immediate impact like Renzo Subido. FEU lost two MVPs, but had strong PCCL and Fil-Oil campaigns thanks to their high-scoring and team-oriented style of play.

            Ateneo has shrouded its UAAP preparations by opting to train overseas, but what’s sure is that their list of rookies reads like a who’s-who of high school standouts: Thirdy Ravena, Arvin Tolentino, Clint Doliguez, John Apacible, and Jay Javelosa. And that’s excluding those waiting in the wings. Add Chris Newsome and a motivated Kiefer Ravena to that list, and you’ve got another potential contender ready to challenge the Archers.

            UE will be mentored by Derrick Pumaren, who also steered La Salle to its first two UAAP championships. Roi Sumang, he of the sideburns and fearless drives, will be joined by Charles Mammie and newcomer Moustapha Arafat, and it’s hard to write off a team that has all that. NU lost a lot of players but will welcome Henri Betayene, Alfred Aroga, plus rookies from their champion Bullpups team and players like former Red Cub Rev Diputado. UAAP Commissioner Andy Jao mentioned that he sees a very competitive and open season, and it’s not hard to see why. La Salle is still the clear favorite, but none of these squads are far behind.


            When Thomas Torres, Kib Montalbo, or Terrence Mustre dribbles the ball downcourt, he can pound it down low to Van Opstal to post-up his man, or to Perkins at the baseline for a jumper. He can hand it to Teng and let him barrel his way to the basket for a hoop-and-harm bucket, or to Vosotros on the wing for a booming triple. A miss can be tracked down by Norbert Torres or Andrada for a stick-back, and that’s not counting their players who will be coming off the pine.

            La Salle does indeed have a stacked line-up, the deepest they’ve had in years, and opposing coaches and sports pundits are already heaping praise on them and setting expectations. And indeed, after winning the championship last year and retooling their roster, make no mistake: This title is theirs to lose.

            But if the preseason is any indication, this team is still susceptible to stepping on the break when they’re up by a mile, especially on the defensive end, allowing their opponents to claw their way back into games. The team is also prone to coughing the ball up. These observations on a preseason tournament that they won might seem like nitpicking, but take a look at what Coach Juno himself mentioned during the UAAP Press Conference, when his team was constantly tagged by opposing coaches as the team to beat:

            “In my humble opinion, I don’t focus too much on the expectations and opinion of others. Performing every game is what’s important more than expectations.”

            So at least for a while, let’s put a hold on those declarations about this team that start with the letter ‘D’ and is closely connected to a long line of successful kings (think Chinese emperors). Instead, let’s try to look at the upcoming season the way Sauler will: A day, a game at a time.

              0 104

              Yes folks, here we are once again.  New season, well, probably, a different expectation from last season but still, everyone in the De La Salle community is looking positive entering UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball wars.  It is the time of the year once again where La Sallians’ world stops in a heartbeat wherever they are just to be updated with how the team performed in almost every single game.

              Last season, the journey to the promised land started in España.  This season, the road going to the top starts a few blocks away from España, Morayta.  The Green Archers will be tested once again in their UAAP men’s basketball opener just like last year.  Make no mistake about it, I still believe that this FEU roster for Season 77 will definitely compete and this is not a walk in the park as most of you will think knowing that their two potent scorers from last season have now brought their talents to the pro ranks.

              Keys to the Game:

              Without further adieu, here is what I think would be the keys to the game on Saturday for La Salle’s UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball opener against FEU:

              • Take care of the basketball – In the Green Archers’ lone pre-season encounter against the Tamaraws (2014 FilOil Flying V Quarterfinals), DLSU committed 12 turnovers resulting to 19 FEU points off turnovers.  FEU will definitely use their quickness and athleticism on defense to force turnovers and run that basketball for easy baskets so the Green Archers should be alert in taking care of the basketball and avoid careless turnovers.  In case a turnover happens, La Salle’s transition defense has to be very quick going back on defense just to stop FEU’s fastbreak attack.
              • Pick and roll defense – I will not be surprised if FEU will run a lot of high pick and rolls this season especially for Mike Tolomia.  Teams normally have rules when it comes to pick and roll defense.  It is either you show hard on the ball handler, go open up so that the switch advantage will be negated, or the last one which is to switch assignments on defense.  If the Green Archers will play terrific pick and roll defense, that basically gives them one foot inside the winning column since I do not see a low post threat for FEU this season enough to challenge La Salle’s bigs.
              • Get the inside game going – For me, La Salle’s strength is still putting the ball inside the paint and challenging the opponent’s big men to defend.  Everything starts here.  If the inside game works early for DLSU, FEU will definitely adjust but it will give more room for the perimeter guys to work on their game.  La Salle should be ready as well as FEU made take away DLSU’s inside game from the start and defend the paint hard.
              • Make FEU pick their poison – This is a continuation of point #3.  If FEU starts the game protecting the paint hard, La Salle’s perimeter game should take care of the offense first.  This may sound like a chicken and egg situation but it depends on how FEU’s defense will show up on Saturday.  This is basically because La Salle has enough personnel to play both areas and contribute on offense.
              • Match the energy of FEU’s scrappy bigs – Belo, Cruz, Pogoy, Escoto, and Hargrove are not your tallest big guys that you can find out there but one thing is for sure, those guys will be giving their 200% hustle and effort every time on the floor, in almost every play.  If La Salle’s bigs will not match their energy, chances are these FEU guys will help the Tamaraws get easy baskets on putbacks of give FEU additional offensive possessions which is not a good thing to do against an FEU team, which is a very disciplined team.

              What to Expect on FEU:

              • Spread the floor out – FEU’s personnel are all very good, perimeter wise on offense that is why I expect them to spread the floor on offense and use high pick and roll sets for their guards to start their offense.  Mac Belo, Carl Cruz, Roger Pogoy, and the comebacking Russel Escoto can all make baskets from the perimeter as well as finish strong inside the paint should each of those guys set the screen and roll hard to the basket.  That is why from this point of view, it will be imperative for La Salle to play very good pick and roll defense to disrupt FEU’s offense and make their offense come from individual plays.  If FEU can take out the La Salle bigs from inside for rebounding position, it will be better for them.   I can only see Tolomia as the player who can break down his man individually so if FEU goes into that route, La Salle has to be attentive in man rotation, not being left behind for easy baskets, either inside or from the perimeter.
              • Disrupt the passing lanes – With FEU’s athleticism, they will make sure that La Salle will not have an easy passing lane on offense.  This is where FEU can be most dangerous, especially if they can intercept easy passes for easy baskets.  FEU’s length and activity cannot be overlooked on the defensive end as they can be scrappy enough to change the tempo of the game at any point.  With the change of tempo comes the change of momentum and it any team will have an opportunity to win a close ball game if it comes to that on Saturday.
              • Shifting defensive alignments – I think FEU will start with a man to man defense but eventually if they will be having difficulty managing La Salle’s inside game, they will eventually shift to a 2-3 zone defense and will dare the Green Archers to beat them from the perimeter.  I will not be surprised also if FEU will give different looks on man to man defense once La Salle’s bigs get that ball down low just to delay La Salle’s offense.  As much as possible, I think FEU will try their very best to play man to man before shifting to the zone if worse comes to worst.
              • Hard show on pick and rolls – This has been FEU’s staple on La Salle as always whenever the Green Archers decide to play pick and roll on either any of the guards or on Jeron.  FEU always shows hard on the ball handler, pushing him all the way far out before settling back to their original man assignments.  The Green Archers have done a good job solving this last season starting from the second round until the Final Four encounter but I will not discount this as a surprise strategy for Coach Nash Racela.  I still think that he will use this strategy from time to time.  La Salle has just to be alert knowing where their release pass will be to move the ball quickly and take advantage of an additional man on offense.

              To sum it up, it will be a very good first test for the Green Archers to open their title defense season.  Most have been predicting the Tamaraws to be a Final Four team this season despite missing RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo so this will be a good game to watch to open the UAAP Season 77 festivities.

              To La Sallians, let us all enjoy the ride this Season 77.  It will definitely be not a smooth and safe climb going back to the top but in the end, let us all hope and pray that everything will be all worth it.