View from the Enemy: Adamson Soaring Falcons
From August 1 to August 11, we were all united. For those two weeks, all of us cheered for the same team. We all wore the same colors. And we achieved our goals. Last weekend was one of the greatest weekends in the history of Philippine sports. But no matter how united we were during those two glorious week of Philippine basketball, we all know we will eventually go our separate ways.
UAAP action resumes after the two-week FIBA-Asia break as the De La Salle Green Archers take on the Adamson Soaring Falcons. Both teams are at 3-4. The bandwagon and fair weather fans would consider it as a “tie for seventh place” while the loyal and die-hard fans would view it as “just a game behind second place”. During their first round meeting, La Salle was able to defeat Adamson, 70-67 in a thrilling contest. That game was marred by what many pundits considered as a “controversial call” as Adamson was slapped with an unsportsmanlike foul during the dying seconds of the game. Then La Salle, a notoriously bad free throw shooting team, was able to hit clutch free throws towards the end to get the win. With six teams bunched up in the middle, every game is very crucial and every game is a must win.
Keys to the Game
AVO should dominate!
Height is might. Anyone who watched the FIBA-Asia Finals knows this for sure. Arnold Van Opstal is the best big man in the UAAP. He is capable of having a double-double performance every game. Unfortunately, instead of consistently using AVO effectively, there were times during the first round that La Salle would just jack up outside shot after outside shot, or rely on predictable isolation plays. La Salle should go to AVO more in post. Run some pick and rolls for him. AVO is the best La Salle big man since Don Allado. La Salle should take advantage of the presence of Arnold van Awesome.
Stop Jericho Cruz
I think every small guard in the UAAP got inspired by the heroics of guys such as Jason Castro-William and Jimmy Alapag during the FIBA-Asia championship. With that said, La Salle should do every thing to prevent Jericho Cruz to make a FIBA-Asia inspired “blur” like performance. Jericho scored 13 points against La Salle during the first round but we all know he can do better than that. He is one of the best slashing guards in the UAAP. But his shooting is still suspect, as he only shot a measly 1/5 from trifecta during their first round game against La Salle. Force Jericho to jack up outside shot after outside shot and prevent him to penetrate to the hole.
Yeah, I know, cheesy for me to use this term right? Especially considering that we are stat-based website. But this is something that La Salle lacked during the last game against NU and during crunch time against FEU and UE during the first round. La Salle’s inability to close out led to a 3-4 record, when we could have had a 6-1 or at least a 5-2 record, and a solo second place instead of a tie for fifth place. I don’t expect any easy games this second round. Every game will be close. Any team can beat any team. La Salle should learn to not panic and close out games. Execution and focus down the stretch are important keys in winning close games.
Final Thoughts and Prediction
It’s a roller coaster ride for La Salle so far this tournament. After an overtime opening day loss against UST, La Salle was able to win back-to-back games against UP and of course, La Salle defeated Ateneo in an emotional rivalry game. But La Salle struggled after that, going just 1-3 to end the round. Late game collapses against FEU and UE and a lackluster performance against NU alarmed a lot of Lasallians. But all is not lost for the Archers. Our fate is still in our hands. Jeron Teng and Almond Vosotros should learn to co-exist and make better shot-selections. Thomas Torres should limit his turnovers. Perhaps the coaching staff can give more playing time to Matt Salem and Gabby Reyes. Maybe Kib Montalbo deserves a break and let him run the point. And please, please, give the ball to AVO! I think the two-week break is just what La Salle needed. Expect a better, sharper and more focus Archers in the second round. La Salle will beat Adamson in another nail-biter.