The UST Growling Tigers was a possession away from bagging the Season 76 Championship Trophy. The Tigers were that close to bringing back the trophy to España. Unfortunately, they failed to take advantage of the opportunities that were handed to them. The heroics of Jeron Teng proved to be too tough to handle for the Tigers and the breaks of the game dictate that La Salle Green Archers is destined to be this year’s Champions.
Heart breaking as it is, the Tigers have to learn from this experience, move on, and look at the bright side of things. After all, Season 76 was one hell of a season for the them. They overcame three consecutive do-or-die games. They carved their name in history books by becoming the first fourth seeded team to be in the Finals. They had been wounded and they fought back. Yes, they fell short but the boys from España gave it all. Come to think of it, the line-up of UST (on papers) had no business forcing the De La Salle Green Archers to their limit but they did. Kudos to the whole UST Growling Tigers Team, held your heads up you have nothing to be ashamed of.
Review of the Keys to the Game
UST was poised to win Game 3. They’ve done an excellent job in addressing the things that they should take care of. They controlled the first half, weathered the third quarter surge of La Salle, forced an overtime and just fell short. Digesting keys of the game suggest that UST could have won this one.
OReb and 2nd Chance Points
Just to prove my point that UST did a great job in addressing their issues, let’s take a look at the numbers in offensive rebound and second chance points.
In the first two games in the Finals, the Tigers were demolished in these departments. Come Game 3, UST was able to grab more offensive rebounds than the towering Archers, 20-18. Also, the Tigers were able to match the second chance points of the Archers, only allowing the DLSU to have a one-point advantage, 9-10. These numbers entails vast improvements as these output by the Tigers are even better than their accumulated offensive rebounds and second chance points in games one and two. In the first two games in the Finals series, UST was only allowed to have 17 offensive rebounds and only eight second chance points.
The adjustment of coach Pido Jarencio of playing Paolo Pe and Karim Abdul at the same time for most part of the game made it possible for the Tigers to match the size of the Archers. They managed to control the boards and defend the paint during the first half. UST had more offensive rebounds than DLSU at the end of the first two quarters, 13-8. The Tigers even held the Archers scoreless in the second chance points while scoring four of their own. However, Pe committed his fifth foul that forced the Tigers to sit him down for good. And from here on Archers managed to chalk up more rebounds and outscored the Tigers in second or third attempt. Which led us to the second key point – foul trouble.
This has been one of UST’s main problem in this series. The combination of Van Opstal, Norbert Torres, and Jason Perkins have been causing the Tigers to give up so many fouls. Foul trouble does not only hampers Tigers rotation but their focus and rhythm as well. As pointed out above – just when Pe and Abdul have been ruling the paint, Pe fouled out of the game allowing the Archers to have their way in the paint. Worst, as a team, the Tigers committed 10 more fouls than the Archers which resulted to 10 more attempts at the free throw line for DLSU.
Having more chances at the line gave the Archers a five-point advantage in the free throw conversion. Tallying 17 points from the line as compared to only 12 points of UST. Although DLSU only had a 65.4% shooting at the line, almost 10% behind the 75% shooting of UST, their five-point advantage at the line proved to be enough to secure that crown.
This loss must be painful to all of the Thomasians but let us not make this an excuse to put a blame on someone. I’m talking about the bashers of Aljon Mariano. Yes, his poor decisions in those crucial moments caused us the Championship. But before you put all the blame and hate to Mariano, please do remember that he is also one of the reasons why the Tigers are in the Finals. Remember those three-point shot against FEU? How about his double-double performances while Jeric Teng was out due to injury? Instead of being hard on him, let’s just inspire him to learn from this and be a better player.