Long layoffs can be a double-edged sword when it comes to sports; it allows athletes to recuperate from nagging injuries but being off the court for a long time could also hinder their team’s offensive rhythm. As the DLSU Green Archers take on the Adamson Soaring Falcons this Saturday, October 24, at 2 pm in the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, one team will try to build momentum heading into the Final Four while the other will look to break out from their nearly season-long slump.
The last time DLSU took to the court was on October 14, when they held off a gutsy UE squad in a 72-64 victory. Jeron Teng and Thomas Torres led the way for DLSU with 20 and 15 points, respectively, but it was the combined effort of Larry Muyang, Prince Rivero, and Jason Perkins, who had 24 points and 32 rebounds among themselves, that swung the game in La Salle’s favor. Emil Palma and Chris Javier finished with 14 points apiece, but the rest of the team only managed to score 36 points on 53 shot attempts.
Adamson nearly clinched a victory over the defending champions, the NU Bulldogs, last Wednesday, October 21, but JJ Alejandro’s eight points in the extra period allowed the Bulldogs to take a 85-79 victory in overtime. Alejandro, who finished the game with 22 points, made four crucial free throws in regulation but he had help from Alfred Aroga and Gelo Alolino as the former finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks while the latter added 17 points and a game-high 10 assists. Papi Sarr had a career-game for the Falcons as he finished with 32 points while grabbing 17 rebounds. Joseph Nalos did not suit up for the Soaring Falcons due to a suspension he was given after he was ejected in Adamson’s loss to Ateneo.
In their first round match up, La Salle had control for the most of the game and needed to fight off a late run by Adamson before coming away with an 88-71 win last September 20 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. Teng had 18 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists, while Torres added 16 points and five assists in the win.
The Green Archers had a difficult time containing Sarr in their first round encounter as he finished with 18 points and hauled down a game-high 16 rebounds. Nalos and Harold Ng were the only other Falcons in double figures, but both only made 30 percent of their shots from the field.
Key for the Green Archers on the defensive end would be to keep Sarr in check, as he has been one of Adamson’s most consistent performers, almost singlehandedly pulling off an upset over the Bulldogs last Wednesday. The Taft-based squad will also aim to force their opponents into committing turnovers as the Soaring Falcons lead the league in team turnovers with 22.8 per game. Despite their frontcourt depth, La Salle will have to rely on Abu Tratter, Perkins, and even Rivero and Muyang to contain Sarr. Offensively, DLSU will welcome the return of Andrei Caracut, who missed the last two games due to a bad case of skin allergy.
For Adamson, looking for other offensive options to aid Sarr will be crucial to getting the victory. Nalos is currently the Falcons’ second leading scorer with 11.2 points per game, and his presence would have made the difference against NU. Defensively, they need to force DLSU into committing turnovers, as Teng and Caracut average a combined 8.4 turnovers per game.
As the Final Four picture slowly becomes clearer, the margin of error for La Salle has gets smaller. The 10-day layoff has given them more than enough time work on their plays while also allowing them to recover from their injuries. Come Saturday, the Green Archers will take every win they can get to create separation from third-placers Ateneo while Adamson will make every game count despite being out of contention for the Final Four.