Despite having a 7-5 record, the DLSU Green Archers has often found itself sitting in the hot seat because of its players’ up-and-down free throw shooting.
Free throws are considered as one of the most basic shots in basketball, and ironically, it is one of the most important. Sinking free throws is the easiest way to win a game. By concept, a player just has to make a basket without any interference. In practice, it is an entirely different story—it is a mind game.
Green Archers Head Coach Gee Abanilla explained his team’s approach in handling free throws. He said, “We devote a lot of time for free throws. It’s something that the players have to handle on their own and it’s mental. The moment you get fouled, you go to the free throw line, a lot of things can happen, a lot of things can be thought of and being young players, they get affected.”
Examining the charts
Statistically, La Salle shoots an average of 60 percent from the charity stripe in 12 games, connecting 164 out of 275 attempts from the line.
Luigi Dela Paz is the team’s top foul shooter. He has an 86 percent clip, while Yutien Andrada and L.A. Revilla both shoot an above average rate of 77 percent. But despite the three’s great shooting stats, the team does not get much from them in terms of free throw points because they do not take regular trips to the line.
Jeron Teng leads the team in the number of free throws attempted. Teng has attempted 81 shots while Norbert Torres comes in at second with 36 trips. Teng also leads the team in the number of free throws sunk; he has pitched in 48 shots, 28 shots above Torres’ 20 strikes.
In the first round, the Archers achieved its best free throw shooting percentage against Ateneo. The team managed a 75 percent shooting record, connecting 15 out of 20 shots while the squad’s worst shooting percentage from the foul line is the team’s game against the UE Warriors. The Archers scrapped in a measly 40 percent free throw shooting record.
Going into the second round, the Archers exhibited an impressive 82.4 percent free throw shooting against the Growling Tigers, drilling in 14 out of 17 shots. So far, the team’s lackluster shooting clip is its 42.9 percent record in the team’s second round, 62-72, loss against the NU Bulldogs.
Roller coaster scenarios
In the Archers’ last FilOil Preseason Cup bid, the team shot an average of 64 percent from the foul line; the UAAP games have been very different.
In the earlier parts of the season, the Archers struggled to get over the mind battle in shooting free throws especially in pressure-packed situations.
The Archers suffered painfully because of the team’s lack of free throw shooting prowess especially during the encounters with UST and FEU. Despite the team’s 53 and 51 percent free throw shooting record against the two aforementioned teams respectively, the Archers suffered a couple of two-point losses.
Perhaps the most painful free throw glitch is the team’s double-overtime drama against the Growling Tigers. With under a minute left in the second extra period, Teng clanked four attempts that could have saved the team.
Head Coach Gee Abanilla emphasized the importance of focusing on shooting freebies especially under pressure.
He added, “When I say more of mental, one way that we handle it is, let’s say you get fouled, stick to your ritual, rather than having your mind explore other things. So ritual, mental toughness, we stress that and just doing the objective.”
Revealing the remedy
The coaching staff furthered that focus and mindset training would address the low free throw shooting percentages since most of the players have good fundamentals.
“It’s more of competing with yourself mentally. We always say to our boys that you have to learn to control your mind or else your mind will control you,” said Coach Abanilla.
Abanilla also explained that the team is always under pressure especially during crunch time, giving the players the jitters.
The players, since the start of the season, have been working on their free throws during practice sessions, but training results sometimes have not materialized in the games.
Coach Gee thinks that his guys must learn to channel in their focus to achieve steady results from the foul line.
Setting the trajectory
The Green-and-White players are fundamentally strong, but have shown psychological weakness especially during the heated minutes of the game.
“There is no defect for me, no major defect in their technique because they can shoot in practice. So it’s all mental,” shared Abanilla
Since the team’s disappointing 33.3 percent free throw shooting against Adamson, the Abanilla-mentored squad has undergone the proper training, and now shoots an impressive 67 percent in the team’s last four games.
With the Archer’s resurgence at the foul line, look for better plays and fewer two-point losses.