View from the Enemy: FEU Tamaraws
I can still remember the 1st round La Salle versus FEU game like it was just yesterday. Fresh from an emotional victory over rivals Ateneo, La Salle was confident against the then undefeated Tamaraws. Up by 12 with just under two minutes left in the game, it seems that the Archers are on its way to its third straight victory. I am sure a that lot of Lasallians already tweeted “Congrats DLSU! Three in a row! ANIMO!”
But then the Morayta-based squad staged a furious comeback to force overtime, then FEU defeated La Salle 83-79, leaving the green and white gallery in shock and disbelief. Some would say this rattled the confidence of the Archers and the boys from Taft were never the same after that game. From championship contenders, some of the so-called experts and fans suddenly pegged the Archers as a team that would be lucky to make it to the Final 4. Defeats against UE (in similar fashion against FEU) and NU and a pair of unconvincing wins against Adamson are a cause of concern for the Lasallians. Now, the Archers can once again make it above .500 for the season. The Archers has a chance to get its revenge against FEU, a team hungry for a bounce back win after its first loss of the season.
Keys to the Game
1. Let Romeo be his old self, bro?
During the first round, Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia played beautiful music together. A lot of people said that the two of them can’t co-exist but thanks to the “improved chemistry” of their two superstar combo guards, FEU went undefeated during the first round.
However, during their last game against NU, something happened. The “old” Romeo came back. Attempting wild shots, waving off screens from Garcia because he wants to run an isolation play for himself. That led to the first FEU loss of the season. And from everyone calling Romeo a “changed man” and a “Sure MVP,” a lot of fans blamed Romeo for the loss. A lot of people commented about Romeo’s game on twitter. One of them is former Ateneo Blue Eagle and five-time UAAP champion Nico Salva, which led to a “twitter war” between Salva and Romeo that entertained a lot of basketball fans who are used to seeing tweets of players thanking their sponsors like my favorite #mastergameface and star players from rival schools being too friendly towards each other.
The key here for La Salle is to force Romeo to be in “pure scorer mode” and don’t let him distribute the ball, interrupting the dribble drive offense of FEU. Most probably, pesky defenders such as Almond Vosotros and Oda Tampus will alternate in defending Romeo. But who knows, maybe rookie Robert Bollick might be given a chance to play this Sunday. Bollick is a long defender and he is a trash talker, and he just might get into Romeo’s head.
2. Jeron Teng should get out of his scoring slump
Jeron has been struggling offensively the last two games. He failed to score in double-digits during their last two outing, averaging only 9 PPG, which is below his average of about 14 PPG. He had a good game against FEU the last time around, he exploded to 25 points, grabbed 15 big rebounds and dished out four assists. It is unfortunate that people would rather concentrate on his 3/11 free throw performance that day, but he has improved from the line since then. I expect a big game from Jeron this Sunday, perhaps even a double –double performance.
3.) Another Arnold Van Awesome performance!
AVO had 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks against FEU during the first round. He scored 13 points in 6/11 shooting during the last game against Adamson. AVO is starting to be consistent, scoring in double-figures for most of the games and being a dominant post presence, both offensively and defensively. I expect another big game for AVO, perhaps another double-double performance. Some people are even calling him as the new King Archer!
Terrence Romeo versus Terrence Romeo
This is a case of Man versus Himself. Lasallians are hoping that the “old” Romeo is here to stay, or at least til this Sunday. FEU fans are hoping that Romeo can learn from his mistakes and once again embrace the team mentality so that FEU can start another winning streak.
Final Thoughts and Prediction
NU and UE are trying to pull away while La Salle is tied with rivals Ateneo and UST in fourth place, with Adamson not too far behind. This is not a safe position for La Salle. DLSU should be aiming for the twice-to-beat advantage and it needs a huge second round to accomplish that. A loaded team that plays with no egos, that plays for the name in the front of the jersey rather than for the name at the back and feeds off the energy of its supporters can go a long way in a tournament. We should all know that by now.
I am confident that La Salle learned from the mistakes of the first round. Romeo would love to prove his critics wrong, but he might try to do too much which may lead to their downfall. I expect Jeron Teng to break out of his scoring slump and for AVO to have another monster performance. La Salle will win this one in another close game. But of course, that is just my opinion. Or maybe I should not have an opinion? I mean. I am not the one playing, right? Maybe I should just mind my own business, bro?