Juno Sauler can finally breathe. No one’s taking his job. No active coaching consultant. Or some weird “promotion” like Gee Abanilla’s. For now.
Crisis is averted in Taft and my preseason pick for champion is still very much alive. The season is a short 14 games and a third loss would be putting the Green Archers in a precarious position and pressure of winning 11 straight games for a shot at the twice-to-beat advantage. You may ask, they can still settle for a 9-5 record, right? Wrong. Having a twice-to-beat advantage is the target here before even of thinking about the crown, right Jason Perkins?
Let’s dive straight into our keys to the game. La Salle earned this ugly win due to a timely assist by Jeron Teng to King Archer Jason Perkins. But this one had bumpy rides all the way as NU lost this one due to ugly turnovers late in the game.
DOUBLING AROGA, OR ROSARIO?
The answer was neither. Equal parts of double, with equal parts of single coverage for both. It was curious enough that NU’s coach, Eric Altamirano, elected to sit Rosario and Aroga at the same time for long stretches of the game. This can be perhaps attributed to Rosario picking up two early fouls that stymied the NU twin towers’ attack. By the time Aroga needed a breather, Rosario was unavailable because of his baggage. La Salle bit that bullet there, having the luck to pound against Glen Khobuntin and Joel Betayene. The defensive load was lessened as Betayene practically offered nothing on offense. Khobuntin did finish with nine points and eight boards but he shot horribly from the field, laying bricks via a 3-for-12 outing.
Norbert Torres, Arnold Van Opstal, Yutien Andrada, and Jason Perkins were successful in cuffing the two key big men of the Bulldogs. Rosario shot 5-for-11 and finished with 10 points, to go with eight boards. Aroga finished with 12 on 6-of-9 shooting while managing to grab nine rebounds and swatting two shots.
It was mostly single coverage but by jove did they get the job done. The quartet of Green Archer bigs produced 37 points and 24 rebounds to really carve up that NU defense. The adjustment to play Perkins at the three with AVO and Torres flanking him worked like a charm with Hefty Lefty churning out 14 and 7 while the Bear had 13 and 8. Perkins just munched Altamirano’s threes and powered through them in the shaded lane. Torres took advantage of Rosario’s absence and proceeded to pound the basketball in the paint.
No doubles needed throughout. Just an equal dose of doubling and letting single coverage do the trick.
WHO WILL MAN THE POINT?
Juno Sauler had to be creative here. His starting point guard (Kib Montalbo) finished the game with zero, as in ZERO, assists. Jeron Teng had to do most of the passing work as Almond Vosotros (six points, 3-for-16, and a solitary assist) was looking to finish another layer of bricks in their swanky new condominium. Teng finished the game with five assists against two turnovers. No other DLSU guard recorded more than a single assist. The next highest assist numbers? Big guys like Norbert Torres and AVO with three. That’s how bad the offense of La Salle is.
They pass, do a weave, then a pick and roll, and revert to Iso-Joe plays. Watching that can really bore the hell out of you since the offense is going NOWHERE. It’s better to see them dumping it down low (finally!) and just watching the bigs wheel and deal. Other than that? An absolute “oh god my eyes!” moment.
WILL THE REAL JERON TENG PLEASE STAND UP?
Apparently, I have to take back the King Archer tag from Jeron Teng. You know how he performed today? Oh it was a decent 9-6-5 line. 9? 9?! Yes! Nine points. On, get this, 3-for-11 shooting. By my totals, that brings him up to 13-for-36 on the season. Just a tad bit over 36%. The rebounding numbers are fine. The assists are piling up. But how come he settles, ALWAYS SETTLES, on jumpshots?! Did he see any NU defender as big as him or as strong? Bobby Ray Parks isn’t there anymore and he can drive at will. WHY. SETTLE. FOR. JUMP.SHOTS?
The defense did cancel out the production of NU’s new big three to 31 points. The Archers were lucky enough that Alolino reverted back to old form and shot his team out of the game (9 points, 3-for-10). Glenn Khobuntin was worse (9 points, 3-for-12) thinking that he should be the one ingredient to put NU over the top against the big DLSU squad. An x-factor here would be the aforementioned decision of Juno Sauler to play Jason Perkins at the three to cause huge matchup problems which Hefty Lefty captialized on. DLSU faltered after a hot start once more, but thanks to a lucky Perkins basket, averted what could be another meltdown job.
Looks like UP will be momentarily lonely at the cellar for now as DLSU was able to carve out a 57-55 ugly win over the fancied Bulldogs. Can the Archers build up on this though? They’ll face another big team on their next assignment in UE. And they’ll need more than going three-big to beat the crap out of Charles Mammie who is one unforgiving customer.
(Featured Image courtesy of Mark Cristino,PinoyExchange)