Sitting on opposite ends of the UAAP standings, many could look at the matchup between DLSU and UE as a walk in the park for the Green Archers, who hold an 11-0 win-loss standing.
The Derrick Pumaren coached squad, on the other hand, sits in last place, having won only two of its ten games. La Salle’s 99-56 win over the UST Growling Tigers allowed them to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs. The Red Warriors’ 79-71 loss to the AdU Soaring Falcons last weekend ended their Final Four hopes.
DLSU enters the game with a confident squad coming off its crushing of the Growling Tigers. The Green Archers’ frontline again proved to be the difference in the game as Ben Mbala and Justine Baltazar combined for 31 points and 17 rebounds. Its defense was also a catalyst in the win as the team was able to hold UST to only 27.54 percent shooting from the field.
In UE’s previous game, Alvin Pasaol was again the team’s best performer as he scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds in the losing effort. Bonbon Batiller did not play in UE’s last game as Pumaren benched him for a scuffle he had in practice. He is expected to be back in the lineup for the team’s game against DLSU.
First round meeting
Going into its first round meeting, La Salle was riding on momentum while UE was still winless. The Red Warriors however, provided DLSU one of its toughest games to date, as the Green Archers escaped with a win, 84-78.
While the Green-and-White led by as many as 18 points in their first round encounter, UE did not back down as the team’s physicality disrupted the fine-tuned La Salle defense. Both teams were highly frustrated at each other and at the referees in a game that featured 56 fouls. This was evidenced by the ejection of DLSU head coach, Aldin Ayo, as he voiced out his frustration on the officiating by attempting to put glasses on a referee.
The Green Archers’ strength on the boards was the biggest difference in the game as they outrebounded the Red Warriors, 67-44. Despite this, the Green-and-White relied on the late game heroics of Andrei Caracut and free throws from Prince Rivero and Kib Montalbo. The matchup proved to be the break-out game of Pasaol, as he paced the Red Warriors with 22 points. Batiller, who fouled out in the game, will also look to play a big role in a potential UE upset, as he scored 13 points in their previous encounter.
Keys to victory
Size will again be the Green Archers’ biggest advantage against their opponents. With players such as Charles Mammie and Chris Javier having already played out their eligibility, the Red Warriors are left with a frontline which lacks height in comparison to the Lasallians. Controlling the rebounds will be vital for the Red Warriors in their bid to upset La Salle.
The team from Taft will also be looking to decrease its turnovers as UE was previously able to claw its way back into the game with easy baskets of these turnovers. Both teams boast defensive systems which feature full court pressure. Because of this, the pace of the game may prove to be exciting for fans.
With the pressure of finishing undefeated and the Final Four looming, it will be important for the Green Archers to not look forward and to focus at the task at hand. The Red Warriors may once again look to neutralize the league’s best team with their physical play and mental toughness and will utilize any advantage available. Composure will be needed for the Lasallians to carry on their momentum and stretch their unbeaten run to 12 games.
The Green Archers and Red Warriors will square off today, October 26, at 2 pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.