Two teams that are on a roll will clash this Saturday as the De La Salle Green Archers take on the league leading and the lone undefeated team FEU Tamaraws. For fans my age and older, who can forget the classic Finals battles between this two proud basketball programs almost a decade ago with the likes of Mac Cardona, Joseph Yeo, Ryan Arana and JV Casio battling Arwind Santos, Denok Miranda, Jeff Chan and Jonas Villanueva during the 2004 and 2005 finals. It still gives me chills when I think of JV Casio’s clutch three point shot back in 2004, and I can still remember how dominant Arwind Santos was back in college as he ended his memorable college career in style by winning the 2005 championship, the last time the boys from Morayta tasted UAAP glory.

La Salle needs AVO and good free throw shooting to beat FEU (Photo Credit: Rektikano.net/RJ Quiros)

La Salle needs AVO and a good free throw outing to beat FEU (Photo Credit: Rektikano.net/RJ Quiros)

Last year, FEU and La Salle battled each other three times. FEU defeated La Salle in the first round in a low-scoring affair, 48-46. La Salle bounced back in the second round with a convincing 63-56 win. Then the two teams faced each other in an emotional do-or-die match for the last Final 4 ticket. La Salle defeated FEU in a classic, come-from-behind match, 69-66 to return to the Final Four. It seems that last season’s disappointing finish serves as a motivation for the Tams, as they are 3-0 early in the season. RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo are finally playing with improved chemistry, at least early in this season. On the other hand, La Salle wants to use the morale-boosting win against rivals Ateneo to build momentum in order to finish the first round strong.

Keys to the Game

Limit Terrence Romeo

I don’t mind Romeo scoring around 16 points, if he can only dish out around two assists and grab around just 3 rebounds. But if Romeo can pull out a near triple double performance, La Salle will be in trouble. La Salle needs to limit Romeo’s playmaking skills to get the victory.

AVO needs to be consistent

Arnold Van Opstal scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in an emotional win against Ateneo last Sunday. It was his best game so far in his young college career. However, he did that against a smaller Ateneo team. FEU is a bigger team with the likes of Anthony Hargrove and Christian Sentcheu. I don’t expect AVO to score 18 points and grab eight rebounds but if he can score around 12 points and grab around seven rebounds, then I will be fine with that.

Jeron Teng needs a breakout game

Yes he scored 20 points against UP, but will all due respect, it was against UP. Jeron is struggling from the field and from the line this season. He is turning the ball over a lot. Jeron also needs to improve his shot selection. The good thing is that he is showing that he can be a willing passer as evident by his key assists to Luigi De La Paz down the stretch last Sunday. Jeron needs to get out of his sophomore slump and prove to everyone that he is an elite offensive player, and what better way to show it by having an efficient game against the league leading Tamaraws.

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Prediction

I expect another thriller this Saturday afternoon. FEU wants to separate itself from the pack in this wide-open race. But DLSU wants to prove that they can beat the top teams, and not just the two bottom teams. La Salle needs to start strong and be consistent against FEU for 40 minutes, something they failed to do as they started “Diesel style” against Ateneo last Sunday. A come from behind win is dramatic, but in reality, you can’t rely on comebacks all the time. I expect La Salle to start strong and sustain it. La Salle will win this one, and get a share of the early season lead.