View from the Enemy: De La Salle Green Archers

It’s rivalry Sunday and it’s going to be a big day for the schools from Loyola Heights and Taft Avenue. Yes, people – it’s the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles versus the De La Salle Green Archers in a (possibly and hopefully, classic) game.

It's Rivalry Day. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

It’s Rivalry Day. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

This game will be an important one because it’s all about history, rivalry but most importantly (despite what some Ateneans and Lasallians say), positioning. A win here would push Ateneo within one game behind the top seed and push the other team two games behind with just three~four games left. That would be such a hard position for the losing team – which means this would be one damn good win if we got it. We not only improve our positioning but we push our rival further down the street. How do we do that?

Keys to the Game

The weird thing is that ten games into the season and both these teams are similar not only in record (6-4) but also in efficiency differential (+4.8 points per 100). That’s where the similarities end and that’s where we can see where our keys to the game are.

1. Offensive Rebounding

I can’t tell you enough how much this matters. Between Jason Perkins (13.5 percent), Norbert Torres (13.8 percent), Arnold Van Opstal (10.2 percent) and Jeron Teng (8.2 percent), the La Salle team is BIG. They dominate the glass. They rebound 37.3 percent of their own misses and they rebound 69.8 percent of their opponent’s misses. That’s an offensive rebounding rate that’s third best in the league and a defensive rebounding rate that’s top in the league. Combined, that’s a rebounding differential of 7.1 percent – again top in the league.

If Ateneo wants to make life easier for them, they better rebound that ball. If they can’t, then this will be a hard game to win. I’m actually expecting this to be a loss. But I’m expecting this to not be as big of a loss as before. I hope it isn’t. Or I’m going to go bald, splitting my hair as I watch this game.

2. Paint Job

La Salle’s size allows them to dominate the paint. 51.6 percent of their shots come from the paint – that’s second only to NU’s. They attack the paint via postups (Perkins, AVO and occasionally for Torres, Teng and sometimes even Vosotros). Is that a good thing for us?

Ateneo’s defense depends largely on doubling down in the post. That means if done properly, they can rotate the ball to the weak side.  The problem is that Torres and Van Opstal have a hard time passing the ball out from the post. If done right, we can get them to turn the ball over a lot. Ateneo has a specific brand of perimeter defense that would be the perfect time of swarming defense that La Salle struggles with. We do this right and we’ll get a lot of easy baskets.

3. Offense or Defense?

The most prominent difference between these two is their style. One team is a superior defensive team with a mediocre offense, the other has an above average offense and defense.

The question isn’t whether Ateneo can score against La Salle – they probably won’t score. For the season, Ateneo scores 91.6 points per 100 while La Salle, for the season, allows their opponents to score 89.7 points per 100. Therefore, it’s not farfetched to expect Ateneo to score somewhere between those two (89.7~91.6). That’s a below average grade.

Rather, Ateneo’s excellent defense (a defense that’s 5.9 points per 100 better than league average, which is set at around 92.7 points per 100) will be the key. Can they stop La Salle from continuing their highly efficient shot distribution – a shot distribution that counts as the third best in the league behind NU and UST?

The most important thing here though is the fact  that Ateneo’s switching defense will cause a lot of head ache for the opponent.

Prediction

I’m going to gout and say Ateneo wins this one.

Ateneo wins by a margin +/- 2, for example.