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    0 44

    The De La Salle Green Archers surrendered a double-digit lead and fell to the FEU Tamaraws, 74-70, on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    DLSU led by as much as 12 but allowed the Tamaraws 26 and 22 points, respectively, in the third and fourth quarters, which eventually helped seal the loss and snapped the defending UAAP champions’ seven-game winning streak.

    La Salle falls to 7-3, in a three-way tie with Ateneo and NU for second place in the league standings. But per the UAAP quotient system, DLSU is currently in fourth place.

    Down by eight with a little under three minutes to go, La Salle unfurled a 7-0 run that got the team within one. After Mike Tolomia made both his charities, Jeron Teng came back down on the offensive end to nail a tough layup, 71-70, in favor of the Tamaraws.

    Tolomia got fouled again and made his first three throw not long after, but missed the second attempt. However, DLSU failed to box him out, leading to an easy lay-in for the FEU star and the loss.

    Jeron Teng compiled 28 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in the loss, while Norbert Torres was the other lone double-digit scorer for DLSU, recording 13 markers.

    Jason Perkins finished with just eight points on 4-of-15 shooting, while Almond Vosotros had seven markers while going 3-of-13 from the field.

    Arnold Van Opstal had five points, while Julian Sargent and Kib Montalbo had four and three, respectively.

    DLSU will look to bounce back against the Adamson Soaring Falcons on Sunday.

    La Salle outrebounded FEU 55-43 but had 19 turnovers, while the Tamaraws had just nine.

    DLSU, as a team, shot just 35% from the field and 22% from three-point range. The Green Archers also went 15-of-24 from the free throw line.

    Scores:

    FEU (74): Tolomia 22, Belo 11, Inigo 10, Pogoy 7, Escoto 7, Jose 5, Cruz 4, Hargrove 4, Tamsi 4, Dennison 0, Ugsang 0

    DLSU (70): Teng 28, Torres 13, Perkins 8, Vosotros 7, Van Opstal 5, Sargent 4, Montalbo 3, Rivero 2, Bolick 0, Andrada 0, Tratter 0

    Quartersores: 15-19, 26-35, 52-51, 74-70

      0 212

      By Absolut Verde

      La Salle 53
      Ateneo 37

      Blue Eagle Gym – Their eyes are on a bigger prize, but in five years at the helm, Coach Tyrone Bautista has never been shy about letting his players know: this fixture matters. And perhaps this particular edition more than the others. For unless the Lady Eagles and their boatload of coaches find a passage north to the Final Four, we may have just seen Miller Ong, Cass Santos, Niky Scott, Nicky Garcia, Inna Corcuera, and Trisha Piatos, the six graduating seniors of this champion squad, play their last match against Ateneo.

      There was little room for sentiment though before tipoff. The Lady Archers have had to navigate rough shoals midseason, following consecutive defeats to National and Adamson, and the starting lineup bore the marks of a team re-setting its course. It was a shooter’s lineup, with Piatos, Santos and Jonah Melendres starting, along with Miller Ong and rookie Martina Lumba. Ateneo played a gambit as well, choosing to have chief scorer Danica Jose come off the bench.

      The reckoning was swift. Without an inside threat and too slow to swing the ball outside, the Lady Eagles could not cope with La Salle’s swarming defence. And on the other end, Cass Santos would punish Ateneo’s slack rotation with nonchalant but unerring perimeter shots. This time there would be no tantalising prospect of an upset. The Lady Archers came to work and when they do, rebounding and taking care of the ball, quarters tend to end, as this one did, 14-2.

      Ateneo would respond with mini-runs in the next twenty minutes, the first when Akiko Tomita scored three straight baskets to open the second quarter, and after the half when Ateneo would put together a 17-point third quarter care of Jose and Caramia Buendia’s work in the paint. Neither insurrection would dent La Salle’s lead. Santos would shoot an astonishing 83% in the first half, backed up Garcia’s hustle (and Scott’s cheeky hat-trick of fouls), while in the second half, Piatos would find a solution to her early-game shooting woes: take two steps back and launch those threes from pro distance.

      But the luxury of outside attempts first demands a tribute in defence. Today the Lady Archers remained diligent despite the early lead, ending up dead even on rebounds with Ateneo but forcing ten more turnovers. To this they added a sharpness on offence not seen since the FEU game: eighteen assists (to Ateneo’s nine) and a second half played with a mere four turnovers.

      Every match lasts forty minutes, but for La Salle’s coach and players, this one ended too soon. With three minutes to go and victory imminent, Bautista continued directing the press. And coming into a huddle following her coup de grace of a triple, Camille Claro was met by her teammate Piatos’ fixed stare and pumping fist, demanding yet more defensive focus: we are not done yet. If she is wise, the youngster will heed. One day it will be her team. And it will follow a golden generation of Lady Archers that not only brought the crown back to Taft after more than a decade, but in five years and in all competitions, only ever lost to Ateneo once.

      Player of the game: Cass Santos, whose 14 points on seven of ten shooting and seven rebounds continues an ascendancy in play from the UST game, and is a testament to the strength of character that allowed her to return from a knee injury months ahead of schedule.

        5 1133

        There can be only one, indeed.  On Wednesday, the DLSU Green Archers and the FEU Tamaraws will face for solo leadership in the on-going UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament.  The winner will claim top spot while the loser will drop tied for second along with NU and Ateneo (again, another complicated scenario).  Both coaches will say of course that there is no pressure on this game but for the supporters, DLSU is not going to claim that top spot in the table, but it will enable them also to extend their winning run to eight this season while FEU will try to prove that their first round win was not a fluke or a stroke of luck with Mike Tolomia hitting all his triples in the final quarter.

        For me, this is more of a test for FEU since for the past seasons, they have been known for succumbing to pressure especially in the late stages of the tournament.  This will test Mike Tolomia’s leadership and how the other Tamaraws will step up in the plate knowing what is on the line in this game.  Mark Belo will be another dependable for Coach Nash Racela’s wards so this will be a determining factor on who else in the Tamaraws’ roster is willing to take this pressure and produce positive results later on.

        For DLSU, this is just more of getting back at their opening game tormentors, whom I personally felt that minor defensive adjustments could have won it for the Green Archers and if Mike Tolomia missed two of his three crucial triples in the final quarter.  The Green Archers have played differently two games later until at the moment so it will be interesting to see how these changes in the Green Archers’ camp can help them conquer the Morayta boys in this top of the table clash.

        During both of these teams’ first round encounter last July 12, La Salle was in full control of the game for perhaps 35 to 36 minutes until that one single play which FEU replicated multiple times later on worked for them to finally get over the boys from Taft Avenue.  It was still clear for me until today.  Mike Tolomia will position himself at the corner then one big man will receive the ball at the elbow in the three-point line.  Take note that this play happens on the right side of the court.

        That big guy was either Mark Belo or Carl Cruz and then Mike Tolomia will go around that big guy so that play will become a hand-off then converted to a pick and roll later on.  It was just a two-man game on that right side.  In all instances in the final quarter, Mike Tolomia opted to do just one thing: Once he gets that basketball, Cruz or Belo will pin down, allowing Tolomia to have that space to take a jumper.  Tolomia takes a jab step and then pulls up from deep.

        All three occasions in the final quarter, all swoosh.  That was all FEU needed in that game to escape defeat.  I am sure FEU will run that play once again since it is a part of their staple but I am not sure if Tolomia will have the guts to take those jab steps and pull up threes on Wednesday.  He may or he may not but for sure, the team has that figured out this time around.  Julian or Robert may be all over Mike just like what the Green Archers did to Kiefer but I’m sure those two will give Mike different looks so as not to dare him that much and be comfortable hitting long bombs once again.

        Honestly, the person which I am most wary of in that FEU roster is Mark Belo.  This guy, which has shown a lot of promise going from last season into this season is FEU’s best player so far this season.  His versatility allows FEU’s other players to concentrate on their roles and it shows as FEU is also at the top of the standings at this point of the season.  Against DLSU since last season, Belo is the guy that keeps the Tamaraws afloat.  In the first round encounter, Belo did the damage for three quarters until Tolomia took care of the finishing touches in the final period.

        Belo is FEU’s counterpart for DLSU’s Jeron Teng and Jason Perkins in the sense that Belo can play quick and fast on both ends in the small forward and power forward positions and I feel that it’s always a mismatch if in case Norbert or Arnold ends up guarding him since he is also able to take those jumpers at ease, even all the way from deep.  I am not sure if it is the team’s strategy to limit Tolomia and let the role players take the scoring cudgels but Belo is now a star-player level for me and can hurt the Green Archers big time if DLSU’s defense do not adjust on him.

        FEU will still have that double-teaming schemes everytime Norbert, Arnold, or Jason gets that ball in the post so it will be important to identify the escape routes, locate the shooters, make that ball rotation fast since FEU has those long and athletic guys to chase balls and cause disruptions on defense.  I was personally happy with how the team rotated that basketball against UP but I expect a higher level focus on details come Wednesday, especially with a top contender like FEU.

        The two-man game involving Jeron will be crucial also since that’s another source of points for DLSU.  With Jeron’s ability to take mid-range jumpers and take it strong to the hoop, just like what he did against Ateneo, it will give variations to DLSU’s offense.  Another critical thing for me is Jeron’s mid-range jumpers when he flashes in the middle to serve as a release pass for Norbert or Arnold especially if the double at the post comes from the top and not from the baseline, it will give FEU’s defense something to think about during the game if Jeron will be successful attacking the basket after as a release pass option on Wednesday.

        Another thing worth noting from the first round encounter is DLSU’s inability to convert 2nd chance points.  DLSU out-rebounded FEU especially in the offensive glass but FEU was more efficient converting 2nd chance points, 5 to 4.  It may just be a point difference but looking at the offensive rebound numbers back in the first round, DLSU had 19 offensive boards while FEU only had 12 and making full use of those 2nd chance points will be big especially for a team like DLSU who has the personnel to get those offensive rebounds to give additional offensive chances for the green and white.

        On Wednesday, my focus is more on how DLSU will put stops on FEU since I think the offense will be there.  We all know how DLSU’s offense will emanate as it always starts from the inside going to the outside so it will be more important to see the Green Archers put stops to this FEU team and then getting more fast break points in which DLSU beat FEU in that category in their first round encounter, 9-4.  Both teams I say are very good in basics when it comes to defense so it will definitely be nice to see the Green Archers getting easy points from the break rather than crunching it out in half court sets.

        FEU showed how good they are by beating UST without Mike Tolomia.  You may say UST was without Kevin Ferrer (I still treat Abdul as UST’s top offensive threat) but still, if you played without your leading scorer and then still winning a ball game that big and convincing, it says about how far FEU has been developing through the course of the season.  If DLSU beats FEU on Wednesday, this will further give confidence to the team moving forward the tough stretch of the second round involving UE, UST, and NU.  This game is not just about getting a better record to split the tie between the two schools but moreover, this will help the team’s character big time at a crucial point of the season.

          0 154

          From being a warm-up game to a possible Diliman bonfire at the early moments of the third quarter. These are not the UP Fighting Maroons of past seasons, heck they do not even resemble the UP team that La Salle ambushed from the get go during the first round. Credit the coaching staff for in-game adjustments and the De La Salle Green Archers finally flexing their muscle to sweep the season series, 86-65.

          For the best part of the first twenty minutes, La Salle was contented to exert just enough effort on offense and defense to win the game. UP, already out of the running for a Final Four slot, almost crashed DLSU’s six-game winning party as no Green Archer could stop JR Gallarza especially from the three-point area.

          To make matters worse, La Salle turned the ball over 11 times which resulted into eight points off turnovers for UP. What did help the Green and White to take the lead at the break was its 51% shooting and 25-17 advantage on the boards.

          A Jason Perkins to Jeron Teng defensive assignment switch on Gallarza cooled off the former La Salle Team B player in the second half, limiting his contribution to only four points after scoring 14 in the first two quarters. Despite the occasional outburst from the Fighting Maroons, DLSU dominated both ends of the court in the final half to cruise to their 7th straight win.

          Super senior Almond Vosotros rediscovered the form that makes him arguably the league’s most dangerous shooter, hitting 5 of 8 from deep for 21 points, two rebounds and four assists. Playing Goose to Almond’s Maverick was Jeron, finishing with another brilliant stat line of 15 points, six rebounds and five assists.

          Balancing the two wing players was the inside tandem of Jason Perkins and Arnold Van Opstal who combined for 25 points and 19 rebounds.

          It is still the De La Salle Green Archer’s title to lose and in this current winning streak, the biggest enemy lies within.

          AVO is back
          His image might have been all over social media due to his off-court activities but there is no doubt that after almost a month of planned rest, the Lasallian faithful have missed the on-court activities and presence of Arnold Van Opstal more.

          AVO finally announced his return in the second quarter, scoring an emphatic dunk off a pick and roll. The Fil-German showed none of the lingering effects of an injured achilles tendon to score 12 points on 5/7 shooting, eight rebounds and one block. Arnold was quick on his feet and was even quicker in reading and reacting to the UP defense.

          So effective was AVO that rookie Prince Rivero, a regular contributor off the bench during the previous six La Salle wins, was only fielded for four minutes and collared three rebounds and issued an assist. It was a scenario where match-ups dictated the rotation as the taller and more nimble AVO could clearly take better advantage of UP’s front court players than Rivero.

          Best stretch of the game
          The Green Archers was leading by 15, 72-57 at the 8:00 mark of the fourth quarter. A lead neither comfortable for a sure win or seemingly insurmountable for the Fighting Maroons to get back to. From the post, AVO swings a pass to Vosotros from a trey, then on back-to-back occasions Almond finds Kib Montalbo and AVO for fast break alley-oops.

          The 7-0 run executed in exactly one minute not only did they extend the lead by 22 but it also showed the true firepower of the defending champions. Double-team our post players and opponents will get torched by our shooters. Employ single coverage on La Salle’s frontline and you might as well count them the basket for DLSU.

          This game also showed a weapon of the Archers that rarely do we get to see, the fast break points.  However dominant the Green frontline is or accurate the La Salle perimeter shooters, easy points from leak outs or long lead passes always help the offense and give the team sustainable momentum. DLSU was +5 (14-9) in terms of fast break points, despite committing more turnovers than UP (18-13).

          La Salle hot hands
          Speaking of weapons, the three-pointer finally showed up when it mattered most. As UP kept close to the Archers for the whole of the first quarter, DSLU relied on the hot hands of Vosotros, Julian Sargent and even Teng. The trio’s six first half conversions was almost half of La Salle’s 40 point output and kept the lead in favor of the Green and White.

          Conversion and percentage-wise, the total 9 for 20 shooting from rainbow land is the team’s season high. The attempts never felt forced, owning to good defensive reads, quick ball movements and unselfishness from they boys. As both teams attempted a lot of perimeter shots through out the game, it was still great to see that despite getting the same number of attempts from the charity stripe, DLSU had a +5 advantage in makes (15/19 vs 10/19).

          No La Salle player played more than 30 minutes, making all players fresh and injury-free for next Wednesday’s important game against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws. Whatever errors and lapses in this game the coaching staff point out to the Green Archers in the next few days would be best to keep in mind.

          The perfect approach to any game is not to play with the same focus and intensity of the opponent, but play above and beyond the level of the other team. It is still the De La Salle Green Archer’s title to lose and in this current winning streak, the biggest enemy lies within. Animo La Salle!

            0 107

            The De La Salle Green Archers amped up the pressure in the third quarter and never looked back to get past the UP Fighting Maroons, 86-65, on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

            Almond Vosotros had a tremendous afternoon, going for 21 points and four assists while Jeron Teng contributed 15 markers, six boards, and five dimes.

            Arnold Van Opstal also returned to put up 12 markers and eight rebounds and Jason Perkins had a 13-point, 11-rebound performance.

            La Salle started off slow and led only by five after the first quarter and only by six after the first half, 40-34. But thanks to Abu Tratter’s burst of energy in the third period, DLSU managed to build a double digit lead and never looked back.

            The Green Archers outrebounded the Fighting Maroons, 52-36, and had more assists, 18-16. DLSU, however, turned the ball over 18 times which led to 17 UP points.

            Despite getting scoreless performances from rookie Prince Rivero, Matt Salem, and Terrence Mustre, DLSU’s bench still outscored UP’s, 27-11. As a team, La Salle went 47% from the field and shot an impressive 45% from downtown.

            Former Green Archers Team B member JR Gallarza finished as UP’s leading scorer with 18 points of 5-of-11 shooting.

            Julian Sargent played 24 minutes and put up six points and five rebounds, while Kib Montalbo and Norbert Torres registered 8 markers.

            The Green Archers will look to push their winning streak to eight when they take on the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

            Scores:

            DLSU (86): Vosotros 21, Teng 15, Perkins 13, Van Opstal 12, Tratter 7, Sargent 6, Montalbo 4, Torres 4, Andrada 2, Bolick 2, Mustre 0, Rivero 0, Salem 0.

            UP (65): Gallarza 18, Reyes 14, Moralde 11, Juruena 9, Asilum 5, Gingerich 2, Vito 2, Gonzales 2, Harris 2, Lao 0.

            Quarterscoring: 20-15, 40-34, 68-53, 86-65.

              2 227

              After that gut-wrenching victory against arch-rivals Ateneo last Sunday, the Green Archer-freight train will look to continue its travel, this time around on the other Quezon City-based university in the eight-member UAAP list, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.  UP’s celebration was cut short at the start of the 2nd round since after that morale-boosting victory against Adamson, the Fighting Maroons got derailed right away by the University of the East Red Warriors.

              I am not sure if the injuries that in the Green Archers’ camp will be enough to help out the Fighting Maroons on Saturday because I think the holdovers (for now) can still man the fort for the green and white.  La Salle dominated the first round encounter because of inside points (38 out of DLSU’s 74 points in the game).  This is not just about attacking the paint via low post plays which Norbert and Jason did.  This also includes the dribble penetration plays of Jeron Teng, which did most of the damage in the game.  With no shot blocker in sight, Jeron just towed his way towards the basket at will.  Jeron showed this against Ateneo last Sunday and I expect this one to continue on Saturday.

              I don’t see any changes on Saturday on this strategy for the Green Archers.  UP still lacks that inside defensive presence that will alter shots and make Jeron, Jason, Prince, Abu, and even Julian to hesitate and think before taking the ball to the rack.  Maybe Andrew Harris can be UP’s answer?  But if UP’s coaching staff plans to let him play for only six minutes in the game, then I really do not see anyone rim protecting for UP on Saturday.

              If UP goes zone and lets the Green Archers shoot from the outside, I think the Green Archers have slowly answered these concerns based on their game against UST last Sunday wherein the Growling Tigers went into a zone but still the Green Archers were able to respond by giving Jeron the ball at the top on the elbow side then a screen comes in which allows Jeron to have the space to either attack the basket to launch a mid-range shot.

              If the defense collapses on him, Jeron has the options to pass the ball to the open shooter, which he did for Jason’s dagger three to give DLSU a 77-64 lead last Sunday or rotate the ball more on the weak side where Julian is waiting in the corner to launch his triple or attack the basket again if the defender over commits to Julian’s ability to shoot the ball from deep.  That opens up again for another series of offensive opportunities for the Green Archers whether to attack the basket or issue drop passes inside the paint to Prince, Abu, and Yutien.

              At this point, the Green Archers are seventh in the league on three-point shooting with 22.1% so I do not blame opposing teams go zone on DLSU and let them shoot from deep rather than maximize their strength inside the paint.  But so far, I am happy with the way the coaching staff has been adjusting on how to attack the zone defense, not relying solely on passing around the perimeter to take long bombs and instead, still pick inside scoring as its first option before going to the outside if open.

              Defensively, just like all other teams, UP will try to get that mismatch on Almond early on.  Kyles Lao and Dave Moralde will be assigned to do such by flashing deep into the paint after a series of screens and try to score from there since both tower over Almond as far as height is concerned.  But of course, DLSU had proven that they can counter such measures so this is just more of a warning sign since all teams have this in their playbook to try and take away Almond’s rhythm early in the game.

              Mikee Reyes and Henry Asilum will be the players tasked to run the pick and roll along with Juruena and Gallarza.  Reyes and Gallarza worked well against Adamson so let’s see if they will get more touches to run this set on Saturday.  Problem is that both big men (Juruena and Gallarza) are more adept to running the pick and pop set since both have the touch from the perimeter, with Gallarza extending way deep to the three-point line.  With a perceived smaller DLSU front line on Saturday, let’s see if the Fighting Maroons will dare to take it inside the paint and produce points from the shaded area.

              If UP sees DLSU as a relatively poor perimeter shooting team, I think the same thing also can be applied to UP.  The Fighting Maroons shot only 10/58 from the perimeter in their first round encounter so this can also be another defensive ploy but the Green Archers have to make sure to get the rebounds as UP mustered 19 offensive rebounds in the process for 11 second chance points.  Defensive rebounds can start breaks that can help set the tempo early for DLSU.

              UP’s low post options rely still on former LSGH stalwart Gelo Vito and Dave Moralde.  Moralde is a better low post player for me although Vito can get points from the low block as well from time to time.  Let’s see if Vito can stand banging bodies with Abu, Jason, or possibly Prince on Saturday.  I do not expect that much of a low post scoring from UP on Saturday since I believe that DLSU’s active front court players can man the paint just like what they did against Abdul and company last Sunday.

              DLSU cannot be complacent against UP.  I personally believe that DLSU’s coaching staff will not allow this to happen but still, constant reminder to the team will not hurt.  UP has enough talent to play hard and push themselves to the limit and try to take a win on Saturday.  I mean, if a team plays too relaxed, this UP team can take the game away from you.  If the focus on the first round meeting will be present (especially the good, fast start to take the game away from UP from the get-go), I see the Green Archers’ freight train continue to claim another passenger to place in its storage box and a good warm up against the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday.