After a heartbreaking overtime loss to the UST Growling Tigers on opening day, the DLSU Green Archers bounced back in dominant fashion to get rookie head coach Juno Sauler his first win, beating the UP Fighting Maroons last July 3, 96-84. The Green Archers played the game as if they were rushing back to class as they scored 24 fast break points and 18 points off turnovers to seal the victory.
Even in the half court, both teams were seemingly unstoppable on the offensive end, with DLSU and UP shooting 58.3 percent and 50 percent from the three point line respectively. La Salle finished every quarter with at least 21 points and controlled the rebounds, finishing the game with a 51-32 advantage.
All starters for DLSU scored in double figures, lead by 20 points from reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year Jeron Teng and rookie forward Jason Perkins. Notoriously a poor shooter from the free throw line, Teng made both of his foul shots and added four assists and two steals. Perkins and Norbert Torres both had double-doubles, with the rookie adding 13 rebounds to his point total while Torres finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Almond Vosotros and Thomas Torres added 15 and 14 points respectively to round out the scoring for the starters of Sauler.
“Jason (Perkins), like in the first game, he comes up big. Even if we have no play for him, he gave us the numbers and rebounds, and there’s nothing more we can ask from Jason,” shares the head coach on La Salle’s prized rookie.
For UP, former Green Archer Joseph Marata led the charge in his first game against some of his former teammates. Marata scored 21 points and made five three pointers while Xavier alumnus Kyles Lao tallied 18 points and five rebounds in just his second game.
After the Fighting Maroons scored the first two points via Lao, the Green Archers scored 14 straight points to take an early 12 point lead. UP lived up to its monicker though and did not back down, despite trailing for double digits for most of the opening ten minutes. Jason Ligad made a three pointer for UP to end the first quarter, trimming La Salle’s lead to 24-19.
The energetic play of Luigi de la Paz and Arnold van Opstal off the bench sparked the team to another 11 point lead midway through the second period, but UP clawed back once again, tying the game at 44 in the last two minutes of the first half before La Salle regained a four point edge at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Green Archers unleashed an offensive barrage led by their starters to keep distance from UP. After Perkins completed a three point play with less than a minute left in the third quarter, all starters reached double digit points.
The Green Archers put the game away for good late in the fourth quarter after Perkins proved his worth, scoring eight straight points to give the team it’s biggest lead of the match at 16 with the game winding down. The balanced and unselfish La Salle attack was a pleasure to watch for the Green and White faithful after the team struggled in its opening game and in this victory, the team combined for 21 assists and just 14 turnovers, showing off the potential that had generated talks of a championship during their preseason run.
“The difference was in our opening game, we had more turnovers than assists, today we had more assists than turnovers,” said Sauler after the game.
One of the biggest improvements from the team came from the free throw line. After infamously struggling over the past few seasons and even in their last game, the Green Archers missed just three free throws on their way to 81.3 percent shooting from the line. Add that to 58.3 percent shooting from beyond the three point arc and a conversion rate of 47.5 percent on all of their field goals, it was tough to stop La Salle from running away with this victory.
The defense of the Green Archers has much to improve on though after they allowed a whopping 84 points from a UP squad that many analysts have pegged as a cellar dweller this season. Sauler adds, “In our first game, we held our opponent to 51 at the end of regulation, but today we allowed 44 at the end of the first half. I told the boys that for us to win (more) games, we have to keep our opponent’s score low.”
The momentum that the team has gathered from this victory will be essential for the Green Archers in their upcoming game against the reigning five-peat champions, the ADMU Blue Eagles, on July 7. The last time that La Salle beat Ateneo was in 2010, back when Marata was still running the floor for DLSU. With a deep roster oozing with potential, the players, coaches and fans alike are hoping that the losing streak will come to an end this year and to back them up, the odds have never been better.