View from the Enemy: UP Fighting Maroons
After an unexpected one-week break due to the bad weather, the UAAP resumes this Saturday afternoon as the red hot De La Salle Green Archers takes on the winless and hapless UP Fighting Maroons at the Smart- Araneta Coliseum.
The Archers are on a roll lately, winning back-to-back games as they defeated the Adamson Soaring Falcons in a thrilling overtime contest, 70-69, and followed it up with a convincing win against the league leading FEU Tamaraws, 75-66. UP, on the other hand, is still winless this season at 0-8 and are endangered to have another 0-14 season.
UP changed coaches just recently, with Ricky Dandan getting fired. Or did he resign? Whatever press release you want to believe I guess. Replacing him is Rey Madrid, Ramil Cruz and former Alaska Center Poch Juinio will also join the Maroons as their new assistant coaches. Will it be enough to turn around the season for the Maroons? Of course not, but it would be interesting to watch the team nonetheless.
Keys to the Game
Stop Kyles Lao
The rookie out of the powerhouse Xavier basketball program is the lone bright spot for UP this season, unless you want to consider Joseph Marata’s trigger-happy ways as a bright spot. Lao is averaging 8.4 points per game in only 19.9 minutes per. As my colleague pointed out in our Rookie Ladder, he needs to play more minutes so he can contribute more, and maybe the change in coaching staff can give him more playing time and freedom.
Most probably, thanks to the Jai Reyes rule, Lao is a shoo-in as this year’s Rookie of the Year. If he gets hot, UP might have a chance. La Salle got lots of guards they can throw to defend Lao, guards such as Almond Vosotros, Oda Tampus and rookies Kib Montalbo and even Robert Bollick.
I can still remember back in 2009, there was a UP rookie guard by the name of Mikee Reyes who torched La Salle for a UP upset win, and crushing the Final Four dreams of the Archers that year. History should not repeat itself for the Archers sake.
Watch out for the “La Sallian-Maroons”
I pointed this out during the first round. The “former” Lasallians who are now playing for UP would love to get their “revenge” against La Salle! That did not happen during the first round, but they get another crack at it this second round. Joseph Marata got hot during the first round, and he might get hot again for this game. Andre Paras and Andrew Harris did not play against La Salle during the first round, but with a possible new rotation, they might get a chance to play this time around. JR Gallarza has been playing quality minutes lately. And who knows, with a new head coach, maybe Mikee Reyes can make a comeback?
It is dangerous to play a team with nothing to lose, so do not be overconfident!
It is another Ateneo-La Salle showdown next week, September 1. La Salle should not look pass that. During the first round, La Salle also faced UP before facing Ateneo. La Salle should look at this as an opportunity to sharpen their skills before the big rivalry game. La Salle should build a huge lead early on, so that the other bench players can get some playing time and get more confidence. UP has nothing to lose so the Archers should be wary of this.
The Free throw curse is back! La Salle shot horribly from the line during their last game against FEU, making only 14/33 from the foul line. I thought the curse is over as La Salle shot well from the line during the three games prior to the FEU game. As I said, La Salle can’t afford to have a bad game before the big showdown against Ateneo, so a good free throw shooting game is a must, not only for the game versus UP but for the remaining games as well.
Final Thoughts and Predictions
DLSU has a chance to get its first three-game winning streak of the season, the longest winning streak for La Salle this season if ever. With the teams from the second to the sixth spot just a game or two away from each other, every game is crucial and every game is a must win. An upset loss against UP is demoralizing, and it would lower the teams’ chances for a playoff spot. I expect La Salle to dominate this game from start to finish.
I expect Jeron Teng and Almond Vosotros to put up a lot of points for the Archers. Arnold Van Opstal and Jason Perkins can both get a double-double performance. Hopefully, The Bear, Norbert Torres can finally get his breakout game. La Salle will win this game in dominant fashion, building momentum for another epic Ateneo-La Salle showdown. Stay dry and stay safe guys!