The Green Archers now face their first do-or-die game in the season as they take on the UST Growling Tigers in the Game 2 of UAAP Season 76 Finals.

UST drew the first blood as they took the win in Game 1, 73-72. The championship experience of UST was evident as they took control of the game early on. The Archers were able to compose themselves enough to showcase a La Salle-UST classic. In their four championship meetings, dating back to the 90s, three of it went the distance. However, UST was able to sweep La Salle for their four-peat back in 1996.

Trivia! The only teams who were able to overcome a 1-0 deficit in the Finals, ever, are the Growling Tigers and Green Archers. Back in 1994 and 1995, UST pulled that trick against La Salle. They also won their most recent title against Ateneo in the same manner. On the other hand, La Salle overcame their 1-0 deficit against UST to take the championship in 1999.

Can La Salle force a Game Three?(Photo Credit: Ricky Marzan/Go Archers)

Can La Salle force a Game Three?(Photo Credit: Ricky Marzan, Go Archers)

Keys to the Game

Start strong

No more excuses, no more “championship jitters.” Game 1 saw La Salle struggling in the first quarter as they were down, 21-4. Starting strong and making sure to keep the UST scorers in check should be their number one priority.

Norbert Torres should step up

“The Bear” has been inconsistent during the stretch of the season. We all know that the huge size advantage that La Salle has over the UST is credited to the Twin Towers of Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres, with help from the wide-bodied Jason Perkins. AVO and Perkins are showing their good game during the first outing. As disappointing as it may be, The Bear was only able to put up two points. Norbert Torres is capable of having a double-double performance and if La Salle wants to extend their Finals appearance, he needs to break free from the rut and go on “Grizzly Bear” mode!

Free Throws!

What’s new? La Salle’s old frenemy is back.

Several times in this season, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ve emphasize time and time again how lacking La Salle is in this aspect. They shot a cringeworthy 14 out of 22 from the line for only 63.6%.

Jeron Teng and Norbert Torres both missed crucial free throws down the stretch. Losing a close game, by one or two points, you’ll see how those eight missed free throws could have turned things around. The team needs to be mentally prepared to make those charity shots fall if they don’t want yellow balloons and confetti to fall from the sky once the buzzer rings.

Prediction

Who would’ve thought that at this moment, the Growling Tigers would be one win away from taking it all? Such is the proof of how wild and unpredictable Season 76 was. Plenty of drama, both on and off court.

The Finals always has a lot of story and history – the heated match-up between the two schools during the 1990’s, the quiet demeanor of Coach Juno Sauler against the very entertaining Coach Pido Jarencio, Allan Caidic and Pido Jarencio renewing their UAAP Finals rivalry and of course, the much-hyped battle of the Teng Brothers.

My thoughts? The slow start, the missed layups and missed shots that they normally can make – all championship game jitters. With their backs against the wall and with one very close Finals game under their belt, La Salle will start the game strong then take it from there. I don’t think Kevin Ferrer can be that hot for two straight games. I certain that the DLSU coaching staff will make the necessary defensive match-up adjustments to neutralize Jeric Teng, Kevin Ferrer and Karim Abdul.

Can the De La Salle Green Archers force a Game 3? I’m saying, La Salle will tie this series.