Reformed Archers chases final four glory

Running defenders, long-cutting passes, staggered screens, and agile ball movement are the ingredients of La Salle’s recipe for success during the Pumaren era.

Every team before knew that the Archers are experts in wearing teams down via the full court press, which breaks the rhythm of opposing teams.

Archers’ mentor Franz Pumaren delivered the famous four-peat from 1998-2001 and the 2007 championship to DLSU, alongside marquee players Renren Ritualo, Mac Cardona and Jvee Casio.

But as time passed, the strategy’s effectiveness declined and change was eminent.


Making a change

Due to dismal results, Coach Dindo Pumaren’s coaching staff resigned last year in the hopes of finding the Archers a new style and play.

The Taft-based squad has since changed. Recently, the team unveiled its new cast.

Former Archer Gee Abanilla is now maning the sidelines as head coach along with Tyrone Bautista, Jun Limpot, Mac Cuan, Juno Sauler, Joe Ward and John Aquino.

Since his takeover, Coach Abanilla has implemented a new system for the squad. He explains, “what we did was we defined the roles of each player according to the system.”

“We would try to maximize the potential of all athletes…We would try to put you in a position where you could succeed,” he furthered.

The new approach gauged the strengths and weaknesses of each player as they were fitted into different roles.

The system also stresses communication. Coach Abanilla wants an environment that would highlight open communication between the coaches and the players, especially with regards to expectations and feebback. In this setup, both parties discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each individual.


Coach Abanilla shares, “I think one of the jobs of a coach is that we have to make them dream; we have to make them believe in a system that they could be good in the system.”


Dominating young guns

Recruitment plays a big role in any collegiate program and La Salle struck gold as the University landed the nation’s most coveted high school prospects.

Jeron Teng for example has taken the offensive juggernaut position that the Archers sorely needed. He has the ability to penetrate the rim at will, and he could takeover games via an aggressive play.

More than that, Coach Abanillla praises his amazing physique that helped him transition to collegiate basketball. Coach also shares, “We want to expand his playing abilities not only in scoring, but we’re trying to make him dish some assists, set up his team mates and play some defense”.

Another rookie to watch out for is Cebu sensation Mac Tallo. His brand of “street basketball” has allowed him to score points off a jumper. Since the summer games, he has improved on penetrating the lane and the defense.

“He has to be well-rounded so if you’re good in this you have to add another skill in each player’s game. So may be passing, post up, shooting; we’ll continue working on it and hopefully they should be better coming in this UAAP season,” said coach Abanilla

Zobel standouts Gabby Reyes and Axel Torres, and LSGH ace Thomas Torres have also joined the team.


Beefing up the frontline

To equip the big men with the necessary foundations to dominate the low post, Jun “The Mainman” Limpot has taken the lead.

He explains that Norbert Torres is one of the most valuable players of the team, which is also a notion that Coach Gee acknowledges.

Torres’ enormous and strong forward plays make for a good inside-outside game.

“He’s done a terrific job in transforming from being an outside shooter into a post player,” Coach Abanilla applauds.


Key losses

The Archers will miss the services of Simon Atkins and Maui Villanueva as both have exhausted their playing years.

Aside from Atkins and Villanueva, the unexpected departures of Dan Sara and Sam Marata have affected the team’s rotation.

“In Dan Sara’s case, I think he wasn’t able to be part of the first team because when he came in there were many point guards already, and we have to make a decision and he decided later on to transfer to San Beda, ”Coach Abanilla explains.

“We really need Marata; in fact we were depending on him on being one of our shooters. But we cannot control things like I said and he didn’t make the grades expected by La Salle,” he added.


UAAP expectations

The revamped squad is setting their eyes to reclaim a place in the top four.

Trained in almost every position, the Abanilla-mentored cagers expect to squeeze out their abilities for a win.

Coach Abanilla however exclaims, “As I said before, being educated by La Salle, if and when we reach the Final Four the pursuit for excellence is always there. We would always try the best that we could be so our goal is to be in the top four, when we reach that anything goes.”

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By Tim Alejandro

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