Okay, this may be the biggest UAAP gameday for both participating sides. It’s Rivalry Weekend folks and this one should be one hell of a match.
You have an intact De La Salle lineup going up against a supercharged Ateneo squad no thanks to Kiefer Ravena having his springs back under him. You have to wonder though, how this would all shape up against the Green Archers who dropped their opening game against FEU. Would they have recovered enough from that mental pounding of a Tamaraw squad that wouldn’t just go away? Will the Blue Eagles capitalize on this and tell the world the Empire is back? Like always, we’ll give you what we think are the tipping points in what should be a classic battle. (Bear with me, for I bleed Blue and White very much and this is really, really tough on me).
Stopping Kiefer Ravena
Looking at the Adamson game, we, well, rather, I, beg to ask, who will stop Kiefer Ravena? The Kiefer that showed up during the Adamson game was the beast in the 2013 FilOil preseason tourney. It was not the same old Kiefer whom people laughed at for a mediocre season and wrote off as someone who rode the coattails of Greg Slaughter on the way to two UAAP titles. He had that extra spring, that extra bounce, that swagger, when he rodeo-ed the Falcons. On a fastbreak after a steal, he did not go for a layup as he is wont to do. The King Eagle lifted off for a vicious rack attack as if telling everybody that there will be no more laughs to be thrown his way. He’s back. And by God, he’s playing point guard more now. You really have to feel for the revolving door of defenders Juno Sauler probably has in store for him. Almond Vosotros, Thomas Torres, and Kib Montalbo, may the gods have mercy on y’all. A Ravena favorite in Babes Bolick may try his luck, but the last time he tried that, Ravena roasted him alive in a myriad of post moves and pull-ups. Julian Sargent can try. Maybe, if we’re feeling so gung-ho, let’s get it over with and have Jeron Teng man him up. I don’t know how that will help but his bigger frame should give Ravena a bit of trouble. Should.
Pound that rock inside
Though they tried, DLSU utterly failed in force-feeding the likes of Arnold Van Opstal, Norbert Torres, and Jason Perkins. Abu Tratter obviously looked like a rookie out there and just couldn’t get it going. They cannot repeat that mistake against the Blue Eagles. They are undeniably bigger, especially against the rookies Arvin Tolentino, John Apacible, and Ponso Gotladera. G-Boy Babilonia is not someone who you would commit to starting long-term, so have AVO, Perkins and Big Bear have a go at him. Jeron Teng can also try to take Chris Newsome on the blocks. And with saying they need to get the rock inside as much as possible, they also have to grab the rebounds. The ADMU bigs are not those kinds of chumps anymore. Apacible reminds me of a young Rico Villanueva who battles underneath with untamed ferocity with the way he took up space and boxed out for rebounds. The Archers have to capitalize on the blitz off a pick and roll too. Ateneo tended to overplay that part last time against Adamson and they were lucky the Falcons don’t have a point guard who can pick those rolling divers off.
Pass, pass, and pass!
This is one relatively weak part of the Green Archers. They tend to go Iso-Joe when all else fails. And Jeron Teng is as big a culprit as they can get. It seems this team is reluctant to rely on the extra pass. Again, their best assist man last year barely reached three dimes a game. Against Ateneo, they have to move that ball, especially on the pick and roll to gather a bunch of steam in crippling the Blue Eagles’ defensive game. They have to find the open man or die trying and not resort to Jeron Teng isolations to bail ’em out.
They have to defend the Ateneo rookies. Ravena and Newsome will be a given and will try to get their numbers. However, it is imperative that the Green Archers ground the air support team in the name of Arvin Tolentino, John Apacible, energy guy Clint Doliguez, and the younger Ravena brother, Thirdy. DLSU should be wary. The last time a Ravena was held scoreless in his first seniors game against Adamson, he badly torched a hapless Taft squad for 22 first half points.