View from the Enemy: UST Growling Tigers
Two Final Four contenders collide in the Main Event of the opening day of the UAAP’s 76th Season as the De La Salle Green Archers take on the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
DLSU and UST have had their share of classic matches against each other over the years. For more veteran fans, who can forget the several DLSU-UST Finals series during the ’90s? There was a time when UST was the four-peat King, while DLSU was able to capture the 1999 crown over them, making it the second championship of La Salle’s own version of the four-peat.
Fast forward to last year, we were treated to two classic DLSU-UST battles which were highlighted by the match-up between the Teng brothers. In the first round, UST drew first blood by winning in double OT, 84-82. DLSU thought they had the match won when LA Revilla made a last second jumper. Unfortunately, Revilla took too much time and his shot was not counted. In their second meeting, Jeron made sure that the final shot counts this time around, as he made the game-winning basket to get his revenge over his kuya, 53-51. During the recent FilOil cup, DLSU defeated UST, 73-67, with Jeric Teng exploding for 31 points and Aljon Mariano scoring 28 points for the Tigers, without getting anything else from the rest of their teammates. These two teams opened the FilOil against each other and now they will also open their respective UAAP campaigns against one another.
Keys to the Game
- Exploit the point guard weakness of UST. In my opinion, Jeric Fortuna may have been the best point guard in the UAAP last year. His loss is undoubtedly big for the Tigers and even if their core is still pretty much intact, the loss of Fortuna left the team without one of its leaders on and off the court. Since DLSU is a team loaded with several good point guards, I won’t be surprised if DLSU throws out a variation of the classic La Salle press defense from time to time.
- Limit Jeric Teng. Without Fortuna, Jeric Teng will now have to carry a bigger load on offense. He’s truly capable of these offensive outbursts and it is imperative that DLSU must not allow him to explode this weekend. I expect rookie-enforcer, yes, rookie-enforcer, Robert Bollick, Almond Vosotros, and perhaps even Jeron, to alternate in defending “Tengminator” and hopefully limit him to around 14 points or less. As long as Jeric doesn’t dominate, La Salle should be fine.
- Free throws! With the probability of the game going down the wire being very high, free throws may just make or break this game for the Archers. If La Salle wants to show to everyone that they can be a decent and an improved free throw shooting team, there is no better way to start by making their free throws in their first game.
Expect another classic DLSU-UST game this opening weekend. The Teng brothers will put on a show. However, I think a rookie in Kendrick, sorry I meant Jason Perkins, might just steal the show with a potential double-double debut. I won’t be surprised if Jeric puts on a scoring clinic, but I won’t mind that. I think DLSU gets this one by four… thanks to Jeron’s game-sealing free throws after a crucial missed jumper by Jeric. Dramatic, huh?