The De La Salle Green Archers came into Wednesday looking for their second win in as many games and for the sole possession of first place early into the season. In their way was the UP Fighting Maroons, whom they’ve beaten in their last ten meetings. A lot of people expected DLSU to cruise into a smooth victory, but the Fighting Maroons had other plans. This UP team, coming off a morale boosting opening win over a rebuilding UE squad, was out to prove that they can hang on with the contenders. And in this game, they gave La Salle more than what they can handle, leading as much as win before hanging on to a 71-66 stunner vs. the Green Archers.
The Green Archers seems to lack the urgency from the very beginning as they started the game very flat. They weren’t shooting well, they didn’t show good intensity to start the game, they were just plain sloppy, a complete opposite to how they started the game last Sunday against the Bulldogs. The Fighting Maroons, on the other hand, showed a lot of fighting spirit from the get go, being aggressive from the start, playing good defense, and moving the ball well. Though the game started out a little close, UP then started to get hot from the field while the Green Archers were still shooting horrendously. The lead of UP went up from five to as much as 15 with a little over five minutes remaining in the game. La Salle tried to rally, cutting the lead as much as five with a little under two minutes remaining. But it was too little, too late as the UP Fighting Maroons pulled off another morale boosting victory, this time against the DLSU Green Archers.
So what happened to the Green Archers? For one, they shot terribly in the first half, shooting 29% from the field while playing awful defense that led to UP shooting 48% from the field in the first half. The lack of an inside defense also doomed the Green Archers, and may be their biggest problem this season. They’re also going to their old habits of missing a lot of free throws, shooting just 57% from the line. Their 11 misses at the line was crucial which would have altered the course of the game. And they were just too relaxed to start the game, and by the time they wanted to make a run the Fighting Maroons already have gotten their rhythm which made it hard for DLSU to make a comeback.
There were few bright spots for La Salle in this game though. First is the improved play of second-year big man Prince Rivero. With a lot of buzz going on with his improved play during the offseason, he proved to us that the buzz surrounding him is real. He has shown a lot of versatility for La Salle on both ends on the floor, grabbing rebounds, scoring down low and getting to the line a lot of times. By the end of the game, he finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 75% from the field and from the line. Another bright spot for the Green Archers was the another strong game from rookie Andrei Caracut. During the game, he showed great patience, moving the ball well and not really forcing anything. He finished with 12 points and 5 rebounds.
This loss doesn’t spell the end of the season for La Salle, its only the second game of the season. The game though is a wake up call for DLSU that for one, no one should be treated lightly, NO ONE! And second is that every game is a chance for all teams to improve, whether you are coming from a loss or a win.