Ateneo won a game it should never have and now De La Salle’s mindset is to catch up. They’re half a game behind but if they manage to keep in step with the Blue Eagles in the standings, they’re assuring themselves of a playoff at least for the twice-to-beat advantage.
The Archers probably have the toughest schedule among the remaining contenders. Yes, even if UST is playing dysfunctional basketball, you’d still be hard-pressed to go up against a Karim Abdul that has slowly accepted having Louie Vigil as his number two guy and not the other (namely the captain, and that former Juniors MVP) Tigers.
Right now, we’re just beating, maybe, around the bush with our factors given how De La Salle has trampled everyone sans FEU. It’s like a rinse, repeat movement towards a repeat at the top, really. albeit a few curve balls here and there to throw off the other team. Like say, Kib MontalBUST playing more than Julian Sargent. Nonetheless, I’ll keep it short and simple so as not to hamper your celebrations of the Gilas holiday.
CONTAIN ABDUL AND VIGIL
Aljon Mariano may show up once in a while but do not bet your house on it. The Tigers the Archers would want to train their arrows on are Karim and Vigil. They are the most consistent Tigers this season so you eliminate those threats as soon as possible. Abdul you would have to subject through every wall possible. From AVO, to Norbert, to Perk, Andrada, and even Tratter. Okay maybe not Abu. Juno is loathe to experiment unlike some supposedly offensive genius we know (and I hate with no regrets).
Expect Sauler to throw the blankets early to stymie Bong Dela Cruz (another genius I think) and his squad. De La Salle still has much to lose if they drop it and it’s not likely they’ll let go of a twice-to-beat advantage that easily.
Bo Perasol almost paid dearly for experimenting. It’s a good thing Juno Sauler does not take anything against chance. He respects every opponent so much that he doesn’t play his bench just for the sake of seasoning them for the Final Four (even if I wanted him to do so badly). So we won’t be seeing Tratter get PT. Or yegads, Mike Mustre. No, Sauler will stick to his rotation that has a little sprinkling of Sargent, Rivero and sometimes Abu.
I see a repeat over UST. Jeron Teng, who was not mentioned above, would surely go ballistic against any defender given that he does not content himself for jumpshots. I’m letting Almond be Almond since hey, do we really think we can scold the guy off?