First off, I apologize for not coming out with my article earlier. Because of the game starting so late (4:40 pm) and the traffic going back to Makati, I got home later than usual, hungry, tired and of course disappointed. It did however give me a chance to think about the game more objectively.
Let’s get straight to the point. The Green Archers played very well from the 2nd to the 4th quarter. It was the 1st quarter that killed us. This should teach the players that there is a reason that the game is 4 quarters and that you have to play your best from the opening tip-off to the ending buzzer.
La Salle won the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter but not enough to erase the plus 16 given to Ateneo. We were down by 16 in the 1st down by 5 at halftime and ended the game down by 10.
We cannot beat a veteran team like Ateneo by giving them a plus 16 after the 1st quarter and expect to them to wane. Veteran teams know how to keep a lead and that is exactly what Ateneo did.
The shooting percentages of both teams were not that wide apart. La Salle shot 23 out of 67 and Ateneo 27 out 64. I would imagine that the difference was mostly in the first quarter.
In spite of the plus 16, La Salle was able to trim the lead down to 2 but just did not have enough to tie the game. If La Salle was able to tie and take the lead even once, the game would have changed dramatically as the confidence level of the Green Archers would definitely zoom.
I can’t stop talking enough about Jeron Teng. He is a player any coach would dream of having on his team. His competitive spirit is beyond question and his dedication, not just to the school, but to the game exceeds expectations. He is a also a very cerebral player and has the one quality that separates a good player from a great player, the courage to carry the team and even take that last shot if needed.
Almond Vosotros has finally gotten his confidence back. This is his 3rd straight game where he played extremely well. His 3-point set shots kept us in the game. Vosotros also showed very good decision making. It’s really unfortunate that LA Revilla is still out because they would have made a potent combination. Hats off to Almond for not backing down and having the will to take over when Revilla went out.
Vosotros’ set shot reminds me of one best set shooters of the past in Jun Papa. For those who remember him, he was amazingly accurate even if weight problems plagued his career.
Van Opstal, Torres, Paredes, Andrada and Mendoza may not have had a great offensive game but he made up for it in the defensive end. Slaughter was a non factor in the Ateneo offense scoring only 1 field goal a 2 foul shots. With his size, he will get his blocks and rebounds. However, keeping his point production in check was critical.
The surprise of the game was the good play of Oda Tampus. He has hardly been used in previous games but Coach Gee did not hesitate to put him in. The players should be ready at all times because they don’t know when they will be called on to play. Tampus came in and played very well. Hopefully we see more of him in games to come because he has a very good feel for the game, especially as a 2 guard, the position that is very important, moreso when you have your point guard waxing hot.
On another note, I was extremely surprised at the disparity in the number of people watching the game. It seemed like an Ateneo home game. It was almost a two thirds Ateneo and one third La Salle crowd. There were even Ateneans seated among a sea of green. Not the regular 1 or 2 but groups seated together.
This always seems to be the case when Araneta is the venue of a La Salle – Ateneo game. This was not the case in the first game that was held at MOA. The UAAP should look into this disparity which is totally unfair to the supporters of La Salle who have a hard time getting tickets.
The division in previous years was one school would have the side where the benches are and the other team would get the other side. This year, it was changed wherein the division is the center court jump ball line. This was done so that the benches of both teams would have their alumni behind them.
However, what happened yesterday was a travesty. The Araneta management should be held accountable for the distribution of tickets. Allegedly, tickets are made available even before they are given to the respective schools.
I would also like to commend 2 Ateneo players, Elorde and Capacio for raising their arms while the La Salle Alma Mater was being sung. Elorde has shown his commitment to Ateneo by playing very well when called upon so it cannot be said that he slackens when playing against La Salle.
Even though they were being stopped by former Lasallian Nico Salva from doing so, Elorde and Capacio did not mind him. It was sad that while all the other Ateneo players respected Elorde and Capacio’s decision, and for that I commend them, it had to be a former Lasallian who did not. If I am not mistaken, Salva spent more years in La Salle than he did in Ateneo.
All in all, I feel good about the future of La Salle basketball. The team started below zero coming from a forgettable season last year, then acquiring am extremely talented player to blend in, getting a new coach and staff, unlearning the past system and learning a new system and many other changes will definitely result in growing pains and that was definitely evident
I was seated next to Mac Cardona and RenRen Ritualo during the game and both of them were saying how good this team will be. It always feels good to see former players watch La Salle games and cheer their lungs out. There were times I could sense Cardona wanting to be on the court.
The scene even became more poignant when former La Salle great, Mr. Ramoncito Campos came by to talk to Mac and RenRen.