As expected by many, the DLSU Green Archers swept the first round of the eliminations. The closest game they had was against the FEU Tamaraws, a five-point win, while their biggest win was a 38-point rout against the UST Growling Tigers. And in their seven game slate, they’ve always led by double-digits at one point or another, padding a resume that includes comebacks and wire-to-wire demolition jobs. Despite all that, according to their coaches and players, “They’re only 70% of what they expect to be.”
That’s not the thing the rest of the UAAP wants to hear.
So, how good are the DLSU Green Archers?
For one, the Green Archers are leading the league in both Offensive Rating (97.02 ORTG) and Defensive Rating (80.09 DRTG). They’re shooting 43.7% from field, and of course, there’s their press. DLSU is #1 in steals at 9.0, and #2 in turnovers forced at 28.1. That gives them 27.7 points off errors an outing. They’re not just a pressing team too, because they have several big men patrolling the paint. With Ben Mbala leading the way, La Salle has a rebound rate of 56%, #1 in the UAAP, and also top the charts in blocks, with 5.1 a game.
Give plenty of credit for all of their accolades to Ben Mbala. After the first round, he is MVP candidate, leading the league in scoring with 20.7, and blocks with 2.1 per game. He’s also #2 in the league in rebounds (16.3) and steals (2.1). While his stats may be very impressive, his value goes beyond the numbers. A big reason why the Green Archers can get away with the press they have Mbala playing safety. Plus, he can switch on to opposing guards and not skip a beat, blanketing them with this length. And of course, stats don’t begin to quantify the demoralizing impact a play like this can have…
But the Green Archers’ dominance doesn’t end with Mbala. Jeron Teng, who has been the team leader these past few seasons, has taken a step back. That’s not because he’s been playing bad, but because he’s logging a career-low in minutes, the direct result of him no longer having to carry this team. Despite that, he was an MVP candidate prior to his injury, and will still be very important down the road.
The Green Archers have also shown this season how deep their team can go, beyond Mbala and Teng. Seven other players have been averaging 4.0 points per game, and it seems like in every game, different players step up. From Kib Montalbo, Thomas Torres, Aljun Melecio and Andrei Caracut, to bigs like Abu Tratter, Prince Rivero, Justine Baltazar, and even Jason Perkins, all have helped them win games.
And yet… they’re only at 70 percent. The Green Archers still have several things they can work on. One of those is their turnovers, because as much as they’ve gotten on opponents’ nerves on defense, the team has turnover woes of their own, averaging 25.0 errors a game. Then there’s their traditional nemesis: free throw shooting. DLSU’s 63.2% clip is #6 in the UAAP, with five of their top six scorers hitting at a sub-67% rate. Similarly, they’re a pedestrian 26.2% on triples, #5 in the UAAP, not good, but not great either.
The Green Archers have been dominant. There’s no other word for a perfect 7-0 record. But in round two, expect opposing sides to adjust and come up with counters for what DLSU wants to do. Will they be effective? Maybe that missing 30% their players and coaches talk about will be how they react to those new schemes.