The easier road to the Final Four is no longer an option for the UST Growling Tigers. Their 69-64 loss to the  De La Salle Green Archers booked them to a knock out match against the defending champion, the Ateneo Blue Eagles. Had they have taken care of the Archers, they would have some room for error in their quest for the final Final Four seat.  But then again it is done and we can’t do anything about it, as coach Pido Jarencio said – “We are down, but we are not out”. The Tigers’ future is still in their hands, they just have to go all out on Wednesday (September 18) and try to score a win over Ateneo. Tough task? Better be, after all it is not like it is going to be walk in the park come the semi-finals round.

Going back to UST-La Salle game, the Archers was just the better team but don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a one-sided game. In fact there were eight lead changes and four deadlocks that happened before La Salle erected their largest margin of 14 points in the third period. The UST Growling Tigers then played catch up. Also, let’s give credit to the Green Archers – they didn’t back down and they were able to answer every run that the Tigers had. Unlike their previous matches, an extra period was no longer needed to come up with a winner.

Reviewing Keys of the Game

Defense is the name of the Game

This is one of the two key points that I think helped the La Salle’s cause. Although Karim Abdul was able to tally 18 points and 12 rebounds it was evident that the twin tower combination of Arnold Van Opstal and Norbert Torres bothered him. Early in the game Abdul was only able to score when the defense was not yet set up. Abdul was even outscored by Torres at the end of the first half. Torres was able to register 11 points and Van Opstal chipped in six points. While Abdul had to settle for six points and it didn’t help that Aljon Mariano was also limited to six points. In fact after two periods of play not a single player from UST was able to score double-digit while the Green Archers had two – Jeron Teng and the aforementioned Torres. While La Salle kept the UST scorers in check, the Tigers were a step slow against the excellent ball movement of the Archers. Definitely an X mark for the Tigers here.

Mariano tries to recover a lost ball (Photo Credit: Keno Carlo C. Enriquez, Varsitarian.net)

Mariano tries to recover a lost ball (Photo Credit: Keno Carlo C. Enriquez, Varsitarian.net)

Rebounds, Rebounds, Rebounds…

Okay, this is the other key point that I’m talking about. Aside from providing a great defense, the Archers really did a great job in the rebounding department, outrebounding the Tigers 53-41. Rebounding is very important to the Tigers as they like to capitalize on the second chance points and attack the basket in the open court. With La Salle ruling both offensive and defensive rebounds, the Tigers failed to put up their usual second chance point output and they were limited to a number of open court situation.

Torres secures a rebound over Abdul (Photo Credit: Kristine Barreiro, The Lasallian)

Torres secures a rebound over Abdul (Photo Credit: Kristine Barreiro, The Lasallian)

The worst part of DLSU’s domination in the rebounding department is that UST was massacred in the second chance points, 21-2. A 19-point discrepancy is just too huge for the Tigers to overcome. Another X mark here for the Tigers.

Pressure packed Free throws

This is the only key point that I think UST had an advantage. The Tigers were able to go to the line 30 times, almost double compared to La Salle’s attempts. The Tigers were able to convert 76.7 percent of their free throw attempts while La Salle was able to match the free throw shooting of the Tigers, hitting 76.5 percent of their free throws. It was the number of attempts that gave UST an advantage in the Free Throw Rating (FTR). The Tigers made a living from the FT line and registered a 37.1 percent FTR compared to 17.1 percent for the Archers. A check mark for the Tigers this time.

Final Thoughts

The UST Growling Tigers were simply outplayed and outhustled by the De La Salle Green Archers. Looking at the bright side, at least now we know that Jeric Teng is healthy and ready to play. Teng even displayed a glimpse of his awesomeness in the first half of the game scoring eight points. This hopefully boost his confidence and prepares him for the knockout game on Wednesday.