by Franco Rimando II
The De La Salle Green Archers secured a final 4 berth after defeating the Adamson Soaring Falcons yesterday at the MOA Arena. The Archers won the opening tip and drew 1st blood amid a split charity by team captain Balty Baltazar. Although a fast start was the target, Adamson stayed in step with the Archers.
The next 3 quarters where characterized by a series of lead changes amid a low scoring ballgame as both teams struggled offensively. Closing minutes of the 3rd period was when the Archers finally got a rhythm going as the team capitalized on the hot hands of Evan Nelle to unleash an 8-zero run that lasted till the 4th period. The lead then further ballooned to 14-points before eventually closing at 64 – 51.
One of the keys to the victory was the special attention given to Adamson guard Jerom Lastimosa, who was confronted with different defensive measures all game long. So effective was the defensive blanket thrown at him that he was held to just 11 points on 3/13 shooting from the field. Lastimosa struggled against that resolute defense, which was seen in his team worst +/- statistic of negative -17. In fact, he had 4 turnovers in almost 30 minutes against his assist total of only 3. Not good stats for a their best point guard.
Here’s what Lastimosa had to contend with all the time yesterday.
The Archers flight to clinch a final 4 slot is finally over! The Archers now have 8 – 5 win-loss card and will be up against the NU Bulldogs on Sunday May 1 at the MOA Arena at 430pm.
The game will not affect the ranking of our team but worth noting is the final regular game of the season at 7pm. The UP Fighting Maroons will be up against the defending champs Ateneo Blue Eagles. If the Eagles record a loss against the Maroons, then the usual system of 4th seed versus 1st seed and 2nd seed versus 3rd seed will be implemented. However, should the Eagles remain undefeated, then it will be step ladder format where top 2 teams will enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage. Our team is currently in 3rd place, should a step-ladder be implemented then we will be against the 4th seed team in a knock-out setting. The winner would be against the 2nd placer, in this case, the Fighting Maroons.
More than anything, I am happy but not content, that our Archers are able to secure a final 4 slot. I’m still hoping that we reach the finals and prayerfully win that championship – even though we aren’t the favorites for this season. The opportunity is still there but the question is are we prepared to fight for that much coveted championship?
Definitely, we need to improve on our 3-point shooting and perimeter defense. Let’s first start with defense, so far, the high-pressured full court press that Coach Derek is known for is doing wonders for the team. We rank 2nd in points allowed per game, 1st in 2pt field goal percentage and inside points percentage allowed, 2nd in the steals department and 1st in forcing turnovers.
However, as rosy as those stats are we ranked last in the 3pt-field-goals-percentage-allowed and close to the bottom when it comes the rebounds-allowed-department! Our beyond the arc defense has been struggling since the past seasons so that shouldn’t be a surprise but what boggling is how we continue to struggle despite the different systems, coaches and players that we’ve had as team.
Defensive rebounding is also a statistic that surprisingly, we are struggling from as a team. Please note that in the rankings, we only beat UST and UE in this department, the only 2 teams to have no import and therefore are at a notable size disadvantage. Should we improve in this 2-key defensive stat while continue to successfully implement our strength then our chances in the final 4 will be better, way better!
Offensively, obvious culprit is our ball rotation! Talent and offensive arsenal is definitely not in question, but the bigger question is “how well do these “talents” gel together as a team?” So far, I noticed how our guards tend to dribble to a lot, eating much of the shot clock! I guess this could be attributed to the player’s familiarity (or lack of) with each other, their “positions” and the system but as I’ve pointed out in the previous article “do we have enough time?” to develop with what’s left of this season! Watching the games live and seeing the players, I see the hunger for the win. I’m hoping that the desire and hunger be translated FULLY this season!
Animo La Salle!