DLSU basketball produced mixed results last Sunday, during the opening weekend of the UAAP. While the Green Archers were able to hold off the FEU Tamaraws to kick-off their campaign, the Lady Archers dropped their first game, against the Lady Tamaraws. Both teams are slated to hit the courts once again tomorrow, September 16, as they each face their counterparts from NU. The Lady Archers will play at 10 am while the Green Archers’ game will tip off at 2 pm, with both teams scheduled to play at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Archers will square off with the team which eliminated them in Season 79 for the first time since the Lady Bulldogs clinched the title, 96-72, in Game 2 of the finals last season. While DLSU played them relatively well in 2016, beating the three-time defending champions will be a challenge for the undermanned Lady Archers.
In their season opener against the Lady Tamaraws, the Lady Archers struggled mightily the entire game, but clawed their way back in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit down to five. With the Green-and-White eventually succumbing to the Lady Tamaraws, 70-62, head coach Cholo Villanueva expects the team’s new leaders to step up as DLSU continues to adjust to life without last year’s seniors and the injured Camille Claro.
Villanueva also pointed out that although they are a young and undersized squad, he hopes the team will improve against NU following their first game jitters. “Of course we’re a very small team so, evidently, boxing out will be a big factor during the game. But we’ll use our quickness as our advantage,” the former Green Archer said.
Taking care of the basketball will be vital for the Lady Archers as they committed 27 turnovers in their opening game. Also, additional help on offense will be needed as Khate Castillo and Joehanna Arciga were the only players who reached double digits in points, scoring 21 and 17, respectively. Charmaine Torres, who also played well against FEU, will need to continue to play with the energy and hustle she provided in their last assignment to give Villanueva another option when he turns to the bench. Team captain Marga Dagdagan, who just could not get into a consistent rhythm against the Lady Tamaraws, will need to bounce back for the Green-and-White to even have a chance at defeating the defending champions.
The Green Archers will be pitted against the NU Bulldogs after surviving a gritty FEU squad last Sunday. In Season 79, La Salle routed NU twice in the elimination rounds with a come-from-behind win in the first round and a dominating performance in their second meeting. This season, though, the Bulldogs succeeded in their first trial against the UE Red Warriors and will be looking to avenge last year’s disappointments versus the Green-and-White.
Sophomore Aljun Melecio, with the absence of reigning UAAP MVP Ben Mbala, carried much of the team’s offensive load, as he led the Green Archers with an explosive 29-point performance in their opening game. Despite having been released from the hospital just a day before their first game, Kib Montalbo asserted himself in playing as one of the team’s veterans and delivered crucial plays in the clutch, which were needed to keep the Tamaraws at bay.
According to head coach Aldin Ayo, inferior decision-making on offense and breakdown on defense were the causes of the FEU comeback. Nevertheless, Ayo was proud of the Green Archers for an overall team effort of holding down the Tamaraws. He, however, still expects improvements along the way for the young team as they continue on to their succeeding games.
Although DLSU ended their first task on a positive note, it will be put to the test against a newly reinforced NU squad. Quality minutes from Dave Yu and Senegalese import Issa Gaye provided the break for the Bulldogs in the win over UE. Yu scored 11 points and shot five out of eight from the field while Gaye grabbed nine rebounds and had 11 points. With a new coach in Jamike Jarin, along with the presence of veteran Jay Alejandro, La Salle will need to continue its vigorous pressure defense and maintain consistency on offense to best the Bulldogs.
Ayo, who is familiar with Jarin from his days in the NCAA, had only good words to say about the former San Beda coach. “I really respect Coach Jamike. Everything he says, everything he does, it has a purpose,” explained Ayo.