Is two a lucky number? Maybe, maybe not. But so far, it’s not been unlucky for us.
Two years of hiatus, two years of waiting and now our Dela Salle Green Archers are up 2-0 to start season 84.
The win against the NU Bulldogs wasn’t a walk-in-park victory by any means. Lead changes happened often, probably because both teams showcased their own version of the full court press, forcing turnovers, and slowing the pace of the game. Nonetheless, the Green Archers secured the W at the closing bell with the final score at 59 – 55 in a low scoring game.
Mark Nonoy and Justine Baltazar led the charge as they combined for a total of 26pts, 4 steals, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. Mark Nonoy, who missed the opening game vs. the Red Warriors because of a hamstring strain, did not show any signs of the injury as he showcased his speed and accuracy from the beyond arc, providing the much needed boost for the Archers to secure the win. Cyrus Austria also contributed silently from the bench with 10pts while 1st game standout Deschon Winston was relatively silent from a scoring standpoint with just 2 points.
At the opening buzzer, the Archers struggled against the Bulldogs tight defense, trailing by as many as 7 points before uncorking a late quarter run to close the 1st quarter on top, 19-16. At the start of the 2nd quarter, the Archers controlled the pace as the bench players made their mark with the team leading by as much 9 at one point during the quarter. However, after an NU timeout and series of personnel changes, the Archer gave up the lead to close 1st half trailing by 1 point.
The 2nd half started slow for the Green squad, with our team trailing most of the time during the 3rd period. A game tying 3-point basketball by Evan Nelle was a highlight for the team during the 3rd quarter however lead changes continued until the 4th period. The last quarter saw the Archers stretch a lead to 7 points with Mark Nonoy leading the charge. S84 Captain Balty Baltazar secured the win for us with a reverse lay-up from underneath as he got past 2 defenders, allowing the Archers to secure a 4-point advantage at the end.
Defense wins ball games. That’s the mantra of Coach Derek.
The Archers continued to showcase the Pumaren press, forcing the harassed Bulldogs to commit numerous turnovers before they crossed the half-court mark, a reminiscence of when our squad secured those championship rings back when a younger Pumaren led our squad. In this game, the Archers recorded another double digit number of steal at 13, and it seems like the Archers will continue to capitalize on this strength throughout the season, especially with a good combo of guards led by Nelle, Winston, and Nonoy in our rotations.
Beyond the Arc
The Archers shot better from beyond the arc this game at 33.3% vs 14.3% posted the previous game versus the Red Warriors. Spacing was better during this game, probably due to the presence of Mark Nonoy. Screens were also seen being executed from the right wing, allowing our guards to have better looks from the beyond the arc. This is in contrast to the past 2 seasons, where the Archers fared poorly from beyond the arc, so a play set-up like these is a huge boost for the team.
Players off the bench
The past 2 games, players off the bench continued to play solidly when fielded into the game. Against NU, the 2nd squad played more efficiently compared to the 1st stringers in terms of contribution other than on the offensive end. We can attribute this to the players accepting their roles, and timeliness of the coaches’ decision on when to adjust plays and rotation pieces. So far, Coach Derek has been capitalizing on the having a good set of combination both on the front and back-end.
Could be better
The Archers win came with a lot of struggles, and much can be attributed to our tendency to pass less. So far, we are averaging around 13 assists per game, a number that can easily be jacked up given the quality of the guards that we have in our rotation. The moment we adjust our passing routines, then team work comes into play allowing players to have better looks and a more consistent contribution. This game we saw the 2nd stringers with a significant contribution compared to the first stringers, so imagine how our team would look if both our 1st and 2nd stringers played more consistently.
Surprisingly, the Archers were out-rebounded by the Bulldogs despite being the taller squad. Much can be attributed to how Balty continues to shoot from the outside thereby limiting our offensive rebound potential. On the bright side, the Archers adjusted well on the 4th period especially with rookie Mike Philipps seen standing his ground to battle for those rebounds. The Archers being one of the taller squads, on average, should capitalize on our height advantage thereby allowing the possibility of more second chance points and better spacing for our team.
The Archers turned the ball over 15 times during this games, lower than the previous 19 turnover blowout vs UE. Indeed this is an improvement but for the Archers to continue the winning streak, the team needs to commit lesser turn overs. Risky passes that crosses the half court mark from the base line should be done less. The team has a good set of ball handlers and a good combination of guards thereby adjustment on this end should be expected.
An ugly win but a win nonetheless. The bright side is that this is just the 1st 2 games and we can hope for the team to play more confidently as the season progresses. Stamina wise we see that our players are well conditioned despite the pandemic and hopefully we can continue to capitalize on our strength, forcing turnovers and scoring from those forced-turnovers.
Up next the Archers will be facing the FEU Tamaraws who are currently nursing a wound after being defeated by our Arch-rivals from Katipunan. The game will be this Thursday March 31 at 1pm. Let’s continue to support our beloved Archers as we shout from our screens till the day we go back to the Araneta or the Arena and see all of them play live as we chant ANIMO LA SALLE….soon!