It seems as if head coach Juno Sauler preaches improvement on a daily basis as the DLSU Green Archers look like they are poised to win it all once again this UAAP Season 77.
Months after they took home the UAAP Season 76 crown, the Green Archers won the championship in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) and the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup against the SWU Cobras and the SBC Red Lions, respectively.
Gone from last season is veteran guard LA Revilla who was still eligible to play for a year in the UAAP but opted to take his talents to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Also missing from this year’s roster are Luigi dela Paz, Oda Tampus and Gabby Reyes who have been relegated to Team B.
Now, the quest to defend the championship begins in a couple of weeks and the Green Archers are more than ready to make history once again. Changes have been made to the team, but the core of last season’s triumph remains and the same competitive nature still runs through the veins of the roster.
Fresh batch of rookies
New faces who will don the Green-and-White jersey this year are Terrence Mustre, Julian Sargent, Prince Rivero, and Abu Tratter.
Mustre, a son of former PBA player Mike Mustre, made a name for himself back in London after leading his high school, Harris Academy, to the 2013 England/BCS under 19 Premier Championship. Mustre was dubbed the MVP during the said tournament.
The 5-foot-9 point guard is described as strong and heavily built for his size, often misleading defenders with his speed in the open court. Mustre also has a decent three-point shot which will fit well with the Green Archers’ system.
After two long years of residency, the swingman Sargent now has a chance to showcase his talents to the Lasallian community. College ball is not new to Sargent as he played for Phoenix College, Arizona in the NJCAA Division II before moving to the Philippines. Moreover, Sargent was once hailed as “Player of the Year” back in his high school years at Cactus Height in the United States.
Described by Sauler as “quick” and “very mature” in his play, the 6-foot-3 small forward also has a reliable three-point shot to add to his arsenal, as displayed in the preseason.
Rivero, on the other hand, was arguably one of the most sought-after local high school players last school year. The former La Salle Greenhills standout averaged 22.9 points and 16.3 rebounds per game on 68 percent shooting during his final stint in the NCAA juniors division last season.
The 6-foot-3 small forward will play behind reigning Finals MVP Jeron Teng but the young Rivero is bound to make an impact on the team with his post play and reliable mid-range shooting, and he has the tools to make an impact with a bigger role in the coming years.
The biggest addition to the roster in terms of size is the 6-foot-6 power forward Tratter. Described as a physical player, Tratter can hold his ground against the strongest big men in the league and his scrappy play off the bench will be valuable to the team this season.
The return of Yutien Andrada
The absence of Yutien Andrada during the last UAAP campaign due to an ACL tear on his left knee left a gaping hole on the team roster as his value is more than what appears on the stat sheet.
His most recent game in the UAAP was during the Season 75 semifinals against DLSUs archrival, the ADMU Blue Eagles. In the game against the Blue Eagles, Andrada put up a marvelous stat line of 17 points, six rebounds, and three blocks in the loss which ended La Salle’s championship bid during that year. He led all La Salle scorers in that match.
After missing an entire season, Andrada was cleared to play during the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup and though he struggled at times, he is expected to become a key contributor for DLSU.
Andrada has yet to win a championship in the UAAP with his name on the official roster, and he hopes that his final year as a Green Archer will end with him holding the elusive trophy.
The complete package
The Green Archers look like a complete team coming into the new season. The addition of Tratter, Rivero, and Andrada to the La Salle frontcourt, already comprised of last UAAP season’s Finals MVP Jeron Teng, Most Improved Player Arnold van Opstal, Mythical Five member Jason Perkins, and Norbert Torres, makes it even more potent. The combined height, strength, and skill of La Salle’s frontcourt is expected to torment opposing teams this season, just like in the previous one.
The backcourt, which already has Thomas Torres, Almond Vosotros, Robert Bolick, and Kib Montalbo, will improve as well with Mustre and Sargent added to the lineup.
Beginning their title defense on July 12, the Green Archers will up go against the FEU Tamaraws at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. The Green Archers are determined to re-instill the glory days that once defined La Salle sports during the late 1990s and early 2000s. With an informal grand slam off the UAAP, PCCL, and FilOil titles, and with the mentorship of Sauler, the Green Archers seek to establish a new dominant era of La Salle basketball.