Since the start of the season, I have always maintained that the crucial player for us will be Almond Vosotros. If you study our team well, you will see that Vostros’ skills are what we need to complement our three major players (L.A. Revilla, Norbert Torres, and Tengsanity Jeron Teng). First of all, let’s start by acknowledging the 35 point performance of Jeron Teng. Super rookie. At last, I think we found our King Archer.
Remember though that it was a TOTAL team effort on our part to get that win from NU, and grab the 4th spot away from them via the winner-over-the other rule. Teng was set up constantly by his team mates. I remember a paticular play of Arnold Van Opstal (much criticized for his seemingly low basketball IQ at a height of 6’8″ at least). He screened a defender under the basket to clear a driving path for Jeron. From this play alone, we can re-design some plays now to clear driving paths for Jeron to squeeze through, mcuh like American football plays clearing paths for their running backs when they go ground attack for yardage. Jerons’ skills are phenomenal.
But let’s go back to Almond Vosotros. When he “re-appeared” last Saturday, THAT was a major factor why Jeron got his driving lanes. Almond was hitting three pointers left and right. Almond has a longer shooting range than L.A. Revilla, and can come off those staggered screens (ala Ren Ren Ritualo, and J.V. Casio). We NEED a player of that particular type to keep the double team option of the opponent honest, thus freeing the path for a Jeron Teng to slash through. One-on-one, nobody can stop Jerons’ drive, not even an import. He has that uncanny “bang-and-a-bucket” skill.
Almonds’ re-emergence (specially as a 2 guard with option to take the point) also clears the way for the likes of Thomas Torres, who has now emerged as L.A.’s chief back-up. When L.A. is out (he apparently re-injured his ankle late in the game), we lose NOTHING in terms of court generalship. Right now, we only lose L.A.’s scoring threat when Thomas is in. But Thomas will soon grow into a basketball body where he develops his upper body strength and become a scoring threat as well. He does have the shooting touch. And if you look at Thomas’ point guard style, it really does remind you of one particular point guard in the past. A point guard named Gelacio.
Almonds’ play will also clear the way for Macmac Tallo being utilized at the 2 spot, instead of point. We do not need 4 point guards. We need only 3. So even with L.A. out, Thomas becomes the lead point guard, Almond can swing between 1 and 2, and so can Mac mac. That versatility in the backcourt will carry us into the semi-finals, if all goes well.
Finally, our good guard corps, which should prominently feature Almond, (reminiscent of the old La Salle Teams), now clears the lane for our bigs to operate. Norbert played a lousy offensive game (off night, good defense of the opponent (Betayene), and bad shooting fundamentals), but he scored at the most crucial times (using the backboard), and if you know your basketball, Norbert played a hell of a defensive game, and he did not totally disappear on offense either, exemplified by a nifty undergoal pass to Yutien Andrada, for a brilliant assist.
Finally, Almond almost became goat, then turned to hero in the same manner. Splitting his charities. In regulation, that led to an overtime when Rayray Parks played decoy and issued an undergoal assist to a team mate for the equalizer. In the second overtime period, Almond again split his free throws but the first of the two proved to be the marginal basket as Rayray parks scored on a brilliant three point shot just as time expired. Whew!!!!!!!!!! Free throws will really test our nerves this season.
This is our first win aainst a top 4 contender, a pre-season title favorite at that. We almost won against 2 others (FEU and UST). We could have been the 6-1 team instead of a 4-3 team. But we will take it. We are in the thick of things. We are only 2 games off the leaders, and 3 games clear of the bottom dwellers. This is EXACTLY where we want to be at the end of the first round. And more importantly, this win has shown the boys that we can beat ANYBODY in this league.
When the second round starts, we should be a better team. BUT, we should never be complacent, specially against the three bottom dwellers (Adamson, UP, and UE). Their record of 1-6 doesn’t show their playing strengths. They are gutsy teams, and at this point of the tournamne, hthey have nothing to lose. So it is imperative that we win against these teams, and beat one or two of the other four contenders. That will give us a record of AT LEAST 8-6 or 9-5. I feel that becasue of the three bottom dwellers, 8-6 will assure of at least a tie for 4th place, and 9-5 will be at least 3rd place.
It’s a game of positioning now. And Almond Vosotros should be a focal point of that effort.