Despite being on a three-game losing streak, the DLSU Green Archers still have a shot at the Final Four. However, with just two games left in the elimination round, not only will their opponents get tougher, but their margin of error also continues to shrink with the NU Bulldogs holding a half-game lead over them.
Even if they are out of contention for a spot in the next round, the UP Fighting Maroons, on the other hand, will look to finish their season on a high note, with their three wins this season serving as a confidence boost in moving forward. This Wednesday, November 11, at 4 pm in the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, both teams will be playing against one another with different agendas, yet the competitiveness and the will to win will definitely be the same.
Second half setbacks
Last Sunday’s loss to archrivals Ateneo continued to expose the Green Archers’ second half woes as the Blue Eagles scored 23 points in the third quarter to pull off a 73-62 win that increased their chances at a twice-to-beat advantage. La Salle was limited to only nine points in the third quarter and Jeron Teng fouled out in the final minutes of the game, a development that sorely hurt DLSU’s chances in the loss.
Prince Rivero led La Salle with 16 points and nine rebounds but he had little help as Teng was the only other Green Archer in double figures with 11. Von Pessumal finished the game with 17 points, while Kiefer Ravena had 15 points but needed 15 shots to reach his output.
In their game earlier that day, UP could not keep up with NU in the second half as the Bulldogs scored 24 points in the third quarter to turn a 31-28 halftime deficit into a 75-69 victory. Gelo Alolino had 26 points and 10 rebounds, while Alfred Aroga finished with 15 points, 17 rebounds, and two blocks. Jett Manuel and Diego Dario led UP with 13 points each but the Fighting Maroons made only 35.6 percent of their shots from the field.
Head to head
The first round encounter between both teams saw UP escaping with a 71-66 victory over the Green Archers. Manuel finished with 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists, while Paul Desiderio added 13 points to give UP its second victory in the first round. Rivero was La Salle’s best player in that game, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds as Teng finished with 10 points, his lowest output this season.
Scoring isn’t the problem for the Green Archers as they currently rank third in the league in scoring with 72.3 points per game through 12 games. What they do need to focus on is their defense, as they give up 74.1 points second only to the 78.9 points per game Adamson allows its opponents to score. La Salle should pay special attention to UP’s perimeter players, as the Fighting Maroons are second in terms of perimeter scoring at 28.1 points per game.
After the loss to Ateneo, The LaSallian conducted a poll asking respondents whether they think the Green Archers will advance to the Final Four or not. A total of 863 people answered the poll and seventy percent of those respondents still believe that La Salle will move on to the knockout rounds. The remaining 30 percent, however, believe that the Green Archers will end the season out of the Final Four.
With only two games left on the Green Archers’ schedule, the sense of urgency within the team needs to ramp up. They had their chances to close the past three games only to come up short in the end. Now that their backs are against the wall, their performance on Wednesday will definitely define the direction of their season.