View from the Enemy: De La Salle Green Archers
As I was writing this pre-game article, I was looking for a way to hype this game up. I was trying to find a way to capture the rich history between the blue and green.
And then I realized, this game doesn’t need to be hyped up. It’s a game that already transcends hype since it’s continuously lived up to it. The past few years, the gap in talent between these two teams is wide. Ateneo’s been dominating the past half decade (around 2008 to 2012) and La Salle prior to that (2004 to 2007). Even then, the intensity, the support, the views and the hype it generates is unparalleled in Philippine college sports. If the NCAA tourney in the US has the North Carolina vs Duke rivalry, the Philippines has the Ateneo vs La Salle rivalry.
Ok, there I go hyping it up. Sorry guys, can’t help it.
Oh well. Ateneo’s in for a rowdy one, especially with Kiefer Ravena out indefinitely with a grade 3 high ankle sprain.
Keys to the Game
I can’t stress this enough – La Salle is a really, really, really … really strong rebounding team. Between, Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, Jason Perkins, Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres (yes, Thomas Torres is a good rebounder), Ateneo will have its hands full. Ateneo is very average at forcing missed shots (which is a good thing, despite the use of the word “average”) with their aggressive perimeter defense (one that also forces a lot of turnovers). Both have been in full display in both the Fil Oil tournament (defensive eFG of 41.4%, turnover rate forced of 19%) and in the early part of the season (defensive eFG of 42.7% and turnover rate forced of 19.6%).
The bad thing is that Ateneo cannot rebound the ball on those missed shots – which is just a waste of energy. They did a better job against FEU, but that’s probably because FEU isn’t really a strong rebounder too.
Today, they’ll be facing the BEST rebounding team in the league. I shudder at the thought of La Salle just waltzing inside. *SHIVERS*
Ateneo wants to run – and why wouldn’t they? We need those easy 2-on-1, 3-on-2 scoring opportunities. Luckily for them, La Salle has one of he most turnover prone ballhandler you can find – Thomas Torres. Look, I love the kid (I follow him on twitter!) but taking care of the ball is one of his biggest weaknesses. Last season, he turned the ball over on 30.2% of his possessions. During the FilOil tournament, he turned it over on 17.1% of his possessions. In two games this seasons, he’s turning it over on 32.4% of his possessions.
Luckily Ateneo has a pesky defender – one who goes by the same, awesome name as I do. His name is Nico Elorde and the coaching staff would be wise to put Elorde on Torres. That’ll probably make Torres uncomfortable and force a lot of turnovers (which may or may not lead into fastbreak points).
Without a doubt, this is Buenafe’s team now (until Kiefer comes back from injury). Ateneo needs to have a great game from him every time. And it’s not about box score production (efficiency in scoring, rebounding, etc…) but all the little stuff – rallying the troops when the other team makes a run, directing traffic especially on offense and being the vocal leader both on the court and off. Everybody is looking to him now. I’m not expecting the same, efficient and explosive game as he did last time. But a good game is to be expected.
Moreover, Buenafe needs to abuse Jeron Teng and/or Perkins. He has the bulk to back down both those guys so we may see more of the Buenafe in the Post Experiment. I’m going to go out and say that it will yield some pretty cool results. Whether those results push us to a victory is to be determined.
At this point (with Kiefer Ravena reportedly out for four weeks), Ateneo is an underdog every game, moreso against their rivals. They’ll be dominated on the boards and on the inside. Whether they can win is dependent on their shooting (a part they’ve been happy to do). If Juami can find a way to get his shot and if Buenafe can play anywhere near what he played against FEU, then Ateneo has a shot. Mind you, a shot. The key to getting good shooting? Easy shots from turnovers and Buenafe.
DLSU wins this. Don’t know how big or how small.