The De La Salle Green Archers hope to end the first round of the season on a winning note and on a winning record, and in their way will be none other than their archrivals, the Ateneo Blue Eagles. With the Green Archers currently tied with the defending champs NU Bulldogs for fourth place with a 3-3 record, they look to end the first round which has been filled with inconsistency on a positive note. It won’t be an easy task as they will be facing a formidable Blue Eagles team but has had their share of ups and downs this season. In their last game, DLSU looked like they were finally clicking together, getting good looks, playing good defense and playing great team basketball. Then everything just went downhill from there, they were suddenly rushing their shots, giving up wide open shots, and trying to outgun a very hot-shooting UST team. On the other hand, Ateneo bounced back, who a few days ago had their own collapse against UST, with a convincing win over the UP Fighting Maroons.
Last season, Ateneo and La Salle split their season matchup. In the first round encounter, Ateneo got the upper hand against the Green Archers with a 97-86 win. In that high scoring affair, Kiefer Ravena was unstoppable as he garnered 29 points for the game, shooting on a high 69.8% eFG. Helping out for the Blue Eagles was former Green Archer, Ponso Gotladera, who was glued in the bench for La Salle, exploded for a career high 17 points against his former team. Ateneo was just on an offensive onslaught as they had a whopping 114 ORTG. Leading the way for La Salle was Jason Perkins who had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Green Archers. But giving Ateneo 97 points, while they also had a 28.4 free throw rate, was just unacceptable. In their second round encounter, La Salle were able to seek revenge against the Blue Eagles. This time around it was Jeron Teng‘s time to shine as he exploded for 32 points of his own, leading the Green Archers to a 88-86 win. Teng was the one unstoppable this time around, with his 33.4% usage rate, you know that he was out on a personal vendetta to avenge their first round loss, and boy did he score at will in this game. While the Green Archers gave up 112 ORTG to Ateneo, they had a very efficient game, having a 50% eFG while their offensive rating was at 115.
For the Green Archers to win they need to start working on their defense, they are currently second to the last in defensive rating at 87.6 (league average is at 85.1). The Green Archers also need to work hard on the glass as they are also second to the last in ORB% difference in the league, while Ateneo tops in the league in ORB%, with the likes of their strong rebounding frontcourt of Ikeh, Gotladera and Babilonia. The Green Archers would have to also find their range outside, they have the second worst 3-point percentage in the league at 21.6%, while their opponents have the best 3-point % against them at 30%. It starts with their defense and making their shots this season. They have been very inconsistent on those areas. Their wins and losses has very well been based on those two key factors.
This season though has been a different story for these two ballclubs. While both teams still have their star players in Teng for DLSU, and Ravena for Ateneo, the mixture of lineups has been very different. La Salle has a rookie laden lineup this season, while Ateneo has had a mix of solid veterans and young guns in their roster. Both teams have been very perimeter-oriented on offense. And this is a big game for both teams since every Ateneo La Salle duel is a must-see game.