We are going to the Finals!

Can Jeron lead La Salle to the championship? (Photo Credit: Cyn Icasas/ Archer Pride)

Can Jeron lead La Salle to the championship? (Photo Credit: Cyn Icasas, Archer Pride)

The De La Salle Green Archers defeated the FEU Tamaraws, 71-68, to book the first Finals ticket of UAAP Season 76. It is the first Finals appearance of the Green Archers since 2008. Unlike the previous La Salle-FEU matches this year when La Salle was in control of most of the match, it was FEU who controlled most of the contest. With the their backs against the wall, the “real” FEU team showed up and played like the team that dominated the first round. FEU even led by as much as 11 points at one point and were poised to force one more match. But the Green Archers had other plans. La Salle outscored FEU, 19-9, during the final eight minutes of the game to get the win. It was La Salle’s first Final Four win since 2008, also against FEU.

Review of the Keys to the Game

Limit the turnovers

An X mark for this one as La Salle had 20 turnovers compared to FEU’s 15. Jason Perkins had five turnovers while LA Revilla had four. La Salle needs to take care of the ball better during the finals.

Improve the interior defense

FEU shot 18/41 from the two-point field goals for 43.9% – a letdown from their 54% two-point field goal shooting during their previous outing. It was said that La Salle is FEU’s match-up nightmare because of the bigs of La Salle so credit goes to Arnold Van Opstal, Norbert Torres and Jason Perkins for making life miserable for the Tamaraws in this series.

Show killer instinct

Down by 11 points during the mid-third quarter, La Salle could have just given up. They could have played like “we have the twice-to-beat advantage anyways” but La Salle showed that they are a hungry team and went for the kill. Kudos to Head Coach Juno Sauler and assistant coaches Allan Caidic and Jun Limpot for making the necessary adjustments and making sure that the Archers stick to the game plan and execute well both offensively and defensively even when they were down for most of the game.

The Good

La Salle is a loaded team and they showed it once again with a good team performance. Three players scored 15 points each. Jeron Teng had another good all-around game with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. LA Revilla scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Norbert Torres scored 15 points and grabbed seven boards.Thomas Torres chipped in eight points while Jason Perkins almost had another double-double game with eight points and 11 rebounds.

It has been said that you don’t know who to guard against the Archers because almost anyone can explode on any given day. All through out the season, Jeron Teng, Almond Vosotros, Jason Perkins, Arnold Van Opstal, Norbert Torres, LA Revilla and even Luigi De La Paz alternated in playing the hero role for the Archers. It would be interesting to know who would step up in the finals!

The Bad

The Archers did not take care of the ball and had 20 turnovers. Unlike the previous game when La Salle went hot from downtown, La Salle struggled during the Final Four making only 3/14 triples. Almond Vosotros continues to struggle as he only made one of five triples. The La Salle community is hoping that he will get out of his shooting slump in the finals.

Also, La Salle’s old waterloo, free throw shooting, is back – they shot a miserable 20/35 from the line for only 57.1%. After shooting well from the line during the first round of the season, AVO continues his second round woes as he missed all five of his charity shots. La Salle needs to improve its mental toughness to make its free throws in the finals.

Final Thoughts

After five long years, La Salle is back in the Finals! 2008 was the last time DLSU made it to the Finals and 2007 was the last championship year for the Green and White. After years of suffering, La Salle is now just two wins away from greatness. They will face either the NU Bulldogs or the UST Growling Tigers. Both teams are really good and either way, it would be a very tough series for the Archers. Both NU and UST got dominant centers and super star scorers who can create opportunities for their teammates.

Will the title finally go back in Taft?