You live by the Sarr, you die by the Sarr.

Apparently this is the mode Adamson is on right now. For 40 minutes, fans in Araneta Coliseum were treated to an exercise on how to find Papi Sarr in the post for scoring opportunities. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but that’s the whole point of an exercise — to iron out the mistakes.

Despite Sarr’s above average performance, the Falcons could have kept this game a lot closer, had it not been for the 30 or so possessions where they tried to experiment with Sarr getting the ball down low. In the first quarter, Sarr had almost half of their made field goals, which led to La Salle gaining the confidence to just chuck it from three whether they make it or miss.

All in all, La Salle’s outside shooting is what blew the game wide open. But it took Adamson’s inexperience and lack of discipline to allow La Salle all those open threes. And the fact that their offense became predictable midway through the game didn’t help at all.

Going to Sarr every three possessions and only producing .85 point per possession will not work for the Falcons. They were better off handing it to the likes of Harold Ng or even Dawn Ochea. But it’s probably a result of La Salle locking down their guards as Sarr’s best sequences came off drives from Joseph Nalos or JD Tungcab who would dish him the ball with only single coverage on him.

Adamson’s offense also wasn’t helped by the fact that Nico Capote, a known outside threat, sat out most of the game, and that the few minutes he did get weren’t effective at all. While Ochea and Ng hit a couple of threes, but they were more of consolation threes than ones born off the offensive system.

Review of Winning Conditions

Limit turnovers to 15: 15

Surprisingly, this is their best handled game so far. After three games of breaking 20 turnovers, they finally force their opponent to more than 20 turnovers while limiting their own to only 15. However, part of the fewer turnovers came from Sarr’s missed attempts or Tuncab’s forced layups. They weren’t counted as turnovers, but they were still empty possessions. If they keep this up and start converting, games will become a lot tighter and the Falcons will win one, eventually.

Attempt more than 20 three pointers: 27 3-point attempts

You can’t fault them for not trying. Adamson attempted a whole lot more shots than La Salle this game, but their inexperience is still what caused their downfall. Out of 27 attempts, only 5 went in, while they allowed 9 to go for La Salle. The four made basket difference spells a 12 point gap on three pointers alone. Had they been more consistent, the fourth quarter spill that killed their momentum would have hurt even more.

Force Jeron Teng’s effective field goal percentage to 40%: 53.3% eFG

Teng was having his way much thanks to his shiny new jumpshot. Forcing defenders to go over screens meant the driving lanes were open for him to muscle his way to the hoop like he always does. La Salle was right to go to him at a 31.5% usage rate because of the frequency at which he was able to score.

Defense is still a problem for the Falcons despite being able to force all those turnovers. Like the Heat team that lost to the Spurs, the Falcons are too eager to get the steal or block that they end up leaving someone open for the uncontested shot. Sure, it worked plenty of times, but unlike the aforementioned Heat team, they don’t have the superpower leak out monsters who would run the court like a freight train and explode upon impact.

There’s value in just forcing a bad shot, something that they hopefully realize as the season progresses.

Limit usage of Pape Sarr to 20%: 32.8% USG

I’m starting to become a bit divided on this. On one hand, Sarr is the most efficient scoring option for the Falcons. Chuck him the ball, he’ll lay it in. Two points. Next possession.

On the other, he’s too raw to be focal point of their offense. Polished big men have two traits that Sarr has yet to master—decent footwork and coverage recognition. There were so many instances that Sarr was called for travelling because he shuffled his feet or was too “gigil” that he wanted to go up for a shot in a crowded lane. This ends up hurting them because of a bad shot or a turnover.

He also lacks the experience to recognize coverage problems and when he will be trapped in the paint. Often, when Ng sends him the entry pass to the post, he ends up spinning into traffic and rushing a bad shot because the help is clearly there. Even Simon Camacho had better post presence with the a la Brondial reverse layup after receiving the pass.

But then again, there were those moments in the fourth quarter of this game that makes you hope that they’ve learned how to make him effective. Tungcab drives, draws the double, drops it off to Sarr, then, bam! Hookshot. Next possession, Nalos bullets in the entry pass, runs cross court and Sarr makes a strong spin off the single coverage, bam! Easy layup.

Right now it’s a matter of finding how to best use Sarr in the offense without forgetting that he has four other teammates who are equally capable of scoring.


Featured Image Credit: The Adamson Chronicle