The DLSU Green Archers and the UST Growling Tigers have a long history of great games against each other. It seems like every time these two teams meet, we get to see an exciting basketball game… except for the last two seasons.

In Season 77, DLSU dominated the match-up against UST, winning both times they met in a year where injuries led to the Growling Tigers struggling mightily. Come Season 78, the shoe was on the other foot. The Green Archers underperformed, with the Tigers winning their two encounters, and then moving onto the Finals.

Now that we’re in Season 79, La Salle is on the up-swing again. The preseason favorites have a 2-0 record and looks like a force to be reckoned with. The hosts of this season on the other hand, have split their first two games, which is not a bad result, considering the exits from their team.

What Happened Last Season?

Karim Abdul was a big factor in UST sweeping the Green Archers last season. // Patrick Gunnacao for HumbleBola

In round one, UST shot the lights out against the Green Archers, overwhelming them in a 77-61 victory. The Growling Tigers waxed hot from downtown (11-of-24 triples, 45.8%), while the Green Archers built a house out of all their bricks (6-of-27, 22.2%). Overall, UST posted an eFG% of 50.8%, and an ORTG of 93.9. In contrast, DLSU’s eFG% was a mediocre 38.1%, with an ORTG of 74.4.

Kevin Ferrer led UST in that game with 17 points, while Jeron Teng paced DLSU with 13 markers.

Come round two, DLSU raced off to a fast start, leading by double-digits for most of this game. However, fueled by a big second half, UST was able to pull out an 81-79 win, to sweep their season series.

This time, defense did the trick for the Tigers, as they held their foes to just 13 fourth quarter points on a 23.53 percent shooting clip. In contrast, UST dropped 22 markers while converting 63.64 percent of their attempts.

Karim Abdul’s 18-11 outing with 3 blocks gave UST a solid foundation, while it was the Jeron Teng show again, as he scored 16.

What can we expect this time around?

Jeron Teng and Co. looks to bounce back against the Tigers this season. // Patrick Gunnacao for HumbleBola

The main edge for DLSU going to their matchup with UST will be the presence of Ben Mbala, who is averaging 21.5 points 18.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks going into their third game of the season. UST on the other hand, after having a dominant center over the past 5 years, has a huge gap in the middle this season. While guys like Jan Macasaet, Jeepy Faundo and William Afoakwah have done a good job, albeit by committee,  they will definitely have their hands full against “Big Ben.”

The guards match-up will also be interesting to watch, especially in the wake of former DLSZ Junior Archer, now UST Growling Tiger Renz Subido exploding for 26 points in their last game. La Salle’s backcourt has not had a single standout, especially close to Subido’s level, but they’re more known for their D, where they spearhead Coach Aldin Ayo’s “mayhem” press. The Archers are leading the UAAP in turnover points, scoring 29.0 a game, and so how they attack the likes of Subido, Jon Sheriff, and Marvin Lee could decide how this one goes.

At the same time though, the Archers themselves must be better at protecting the ball. They average the second-most turnovers at 26.5 an outing, mostly because of unnecessary passes and over-dribbling. Given all the hype, it’s possible that La Sale is playing too gigil for their own good. They need to play more under control, and should expect to do so, what with two wins already under their belts.

Both teams are still a work in progress, but let’s face it, DLSU has a ton more upside than UST. La Salle has yet to dominate a game from start to finish, but they did emerge triumphant against an FEU side that’s looking to defend their title, and delivered a knockout punch in the third against UP. For the U. of Santo Tomas, they got great numbers from their big men, and next to nothing from their guards, in game one against Ateneo, only for the opposite to be true in their victory over UE in game two. Which Growling Tigers team will show versus the Green Archers is still up in the air.

For now, the learning curve continues for DLSU. But like a fine wine, the more they ferment and take to Coach Ayo’s system, the better they’ll be after some time.

Game Details
TIME: 4:00 PM