In their last season’s second round encounter which was Rey Madrid’s first game back as head coach, the UP Fighting Maroons nearly entered the win column as they put on a majestic performance in the first two quarters against the De La Salle Green Archers. However, a typical second half buckling by UP occurred, leading them to register their ninth of the total 14 losses in Season 76.
364 days after, UP and La Salle will meet again for their respective second games in the second round. A lot of things had happened for the two teams since then. One has finally bagged the crown that eluded them for six years while the other has finally ended their victory drought which lasted 720 days.
It was only sixteen days ago, in their first round matchup, when the defending UAAP champs breezed past the Fighting Maroons, 74-53. La Salle unleashed an early 17-0 run which UP did not overcome for the rest of the game despite a solid performance in the second half. (La Salle’s starters played sparingly in the second half of that game, in case you’re wondering.) That game also marked the dawn of Jeron Teng‘s tear on offense recently as he is producing a startling 115 points per 100 possessions in La Salle’s last three games. For purposes of comparison, Dan Alberto of UE currently sports the highest offensive rating, 113.1 points per 100, among players who played at least 15 minutes per contest this season.
After the much-celebrated victory over Adamson, UP appeared to have returned to the earth as UE sent them to the ugly side of a huge blowout. On the other hand, the Green Archers seem to have no plans of following them any time soon as they are riding high on a six-game winning streak despite the lengthy absence of their two key guys, Thomas Torres and Arnold Van Opstal, due to injuries. Remember when DLSU started the season with two losses? Me neither.
Keys to the Game
MORE TRIPS TO THE CHARITY STRIPE
|DLSU stats||First 2 games||Last 6 games|
Opponents' Free Throw Rate
For UP to stand a chance of pulling an upset of ages, they have to attack towards the heart of La Salle’s defense to draw more fouls and eventually, to get more trips to the free throw line. In La Salle’s first two games which both ended in losses, opponents have registered a 27.6% free throw rate. (But we also have to take note that their first two opponents were Ateneo and FEU, two of the best teams in the getting to the free throw line.) During this six-game winning run, DLSU has been limiting their opponents to a lowly 17.8% free throw rate which is higher than UP’s league-worst 14.6% free throw rate. Perhaps, the downfall of the free throw rate by La Salle’s opponents can be attributed to the significant decrease in fouls drawn from the Green Archers.
Among the UP players, only two — Kyles Lao and Mikee Reyes, are attempting over the league-average of 2.3 free throw attempts per contest. Other players have to contribute as well. The frontline of JR Gallarza and Mark Juruena, the team’s best rebounders, could be possible sources of free throws should they decide to force it inside against the bigs of La Salle.
CAN JERON BE TAMED?
|Last 2 games||FT|
Given his immense basketball skills, it was not surprising that Jeron Teng has come up with this string of impressive games. What has been surprising though is the huge leap in his free throw percentage. A 55.1% free throw shooter in his first two seasons, Jeron is currently converting 74.2% of his attempts from the foul line this season. This improvement is further accentuated by the increase in his free throw attempts, from 6.5 per game in his first two seasons to 8.3 this year. Another facet of his game which improved tremendously is his passing. Currently, his assist rate of 26.9% puts him sixth among players which have at least 15 minutes of playing time per contest.
Having said all these things about Jeron, can UP find a way to tame him? In the last UP-La Salle game, he easily decimated the defense of the Fighting Maroons. He has been unstoppable lately and does not seem to stop any time soon. Can the designated UP defenders like Moriah Gingerich and Agustini Amar halt his good run?
|Dave Moralde Stats||First 6 games||Last 2 games|
In the last two UP games, Dave Moralde was nowhere to be found. After an impressive six games to start his UAAP career, his numbers have plummeted since which led to his PER falling to 14.4, coming from as high as 22. While his scoring prowess was not needed that much against Adamson, it could have been utilized against UE in the last game as the Fighting Maroons needed some scoring punch aside from Reyes in that blowout loss. Being the team’s starting shooting guard, he cannot afford to continue this poor run. When he’s playing well and knocking down his triples, UP is and will always be in better position.
This La Salle streak does not appear to end in the foreseeable future. This squad features the deepest depth on all positions which UP surely does envy. If UP does not start the game well, La Salle could pull away early on, just like in their previous match. A double-digit win, around 20 points, by the Green Archers is plausible.
Featured image courtesy of Mark Cristino, Pinoy Exchange