One win is all it takes; one win would determine whether this season will end with another disappointment or a triumphant return; and one win will make or break the Archers’ Final Four bid.
With a three-way tie at 9-5 between the National University Bulldogs, De La Salle University Green Archers, and Far Eastern University Tamaraws, the three schools are caught in a stump for the last two semifinal slots.
Due to its superior quotient, NU has been awarded the third seed while DLSU and FEU must joust it out for the last seat on Wednesday, September 26, 3:30 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Coach Gee Abanilla is confident with his team’s performance. He said, “Despite all the injuries we had, and all the distractions, I think we managed to have a good 9-5 record, and that’s a really good feat for us.”
The winner of this match will forge a duel with the league-leading and four-peat champion Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles, which holds a twice-to-beat advantage. Though a date with the Blue Eagles is a daunting task, both teams will scratch and claw for that opportunity in the coming do-or-die game.
A reversal of fortune
In the Archers’ first round encounter against the Tamaraws held last July 22, the Tamaraws stole a nail biting 48-46 win. Terrence Romeo’s 10 points and five rebounds led FEU as the team capitalized on the absence of La Salle Captain LA Revilla who was recovering from an ankle injury.
Yutien Andrada, Jovet Mendoza, and Almond Vosotros led the archers; all three scored eight points apiece. The Archers shot a miserable 27.8 percent from the field while the Tamaraws were not much better at 30.2 percent to highlight a gritty and low-scoring affair.
Meanwhile, the second round had a different story. La Salle had Revilla back in the fold while FEU was left without forward Arvie Bringas and Mark Belo who were both serving suspensions for altercations.
Capitalizing in the second half, the Abanilla-mentored squad took a 63-56 win which kept the team’s Final Four hope alive. The team was led by Almond Vosotros who continued his second round hot streak with 21 points while Jeron Teng found ways to remain productive with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite the emergence of Teng and Vosotros as the marquee scorers of the team, the team’s feat came at a result of collective effort.
Six players average at least five points per game while Arnold van Opstal is averaging just a shade under with 4.9 per outing.
Meanwhile, four Archers reached the top 20 for rebounds per game while three are in the top 15 for assists per contest.
Do or die Wednesday
The last time the Archers finished the eliminations with a 9-5 record was in 2007, the team’s last championship year. Behind the stellar play of TY Tang, Cholo Villanueva, JV Casio and Rico Maeirhofer, La Salle bagged a finals seat, ousting archrival Ateneo in the Final Four and downed UE in two games to clinch the title.
This season has already been a success for the Archers as the team has won four more games than last season. The Final Four though will be a big step in the development of this young Archers team that has surprised everyone in its recent games.