UAAP: DLSU Lady Archers seek redemption in Season 82

The DLSU Lady Archers are looking to gain prominence as they enter the new season. When the team from Taft won in 2013 after an 11-year drought, there was a looming expectation that the team would be in title contention for years to come.

However, the NU Lady Bulldogs have been dominating the tournament. They made history by achieving a five-peat—a first in UAAP Women’s Basketball history since the inception of the Final Four format in 1994. 

The recent loss of key veterans, coupled with a handful of short-lived seasons led to a period of rebuilding for the Lady Archers. After failing to advance to the semifinals once again—this time at the hands of the UST Golden Tigresses—head coach Cholo Villanueva’s Season 81 campaign saw its end.

However, after gradually placing higher through the seasons—from seventh in Season 80 to fifth in Season 81—the upward trend sees the Lady Archers returning to the Final Four. The younger lineup changes team culture as they focus on rebuilding and challenging rookies to develop  quickly. The future of the team’s success will depend on their development. 

A young core

Despite key losses such as Camille Claro and Kate Castillo, Villanueva is optimistic that they can reach the Final Four. According to him, the team is composed mostly of rookies and sophomores, with only three or four senior players. Team captain Bennette Revillosa explains, “The rookies for Season 82 are Kent Pastrana, Mica Camba, Bea Dalisay, and Maureen Okoli.” Because of the newcomers, Villanueva’s mindset of development through experience has been their focus. 

Hoping to further develop the team prior to the UAAP, the Lady Archers joined numerous competitions such as the Fr. Martin’s Cup, the Breakdown Basketball Invitational, and the Xiamen China Tournament. Villanueva shares that the team placed fourth in both local tournaments. Despite participating in many tournaments, the squad has remained healthy throughout their preparation stage.

Aside from the tournaments, their training camp officially started in January and the coaching staff has continued to make adjustments along the way after each tournament. As the season approaches, Villanueva has focused more on polishing their game in the last couple of weeks and is hoping that his young team will adapt by maturing quickly with each game.

Championship DNA 

Villanueva is no stranger to winning UAAP titles, as he was part of the 2001 and 2007 championship teams, garnering the co-finals MVP award with JVee Casio in the latter. With his experience as a player and coach, he believes that this young core could mature as the season goes by, and hopefully, qualify for the Final Four.

The Lady Archers have a history of success as they were the first to win four straight championships, from 1999 to 2002. When Juno Sauler took over as head coach in 1998, his historic Green-and-White squad qualified for the final four after failing to do so the previous year.  This could be the return of the golden era for the DLSU Lady Archers as Villanueva and his team aim for the Final Four and possibly the title. 

Hopes and expectations

With a team full of rookies, Villanueva hopes that his players grow as they play more games, “Hopefully they make the right decisions and the right plays during the right time. Again, our main concern is the experience factor, so hopefully they mature within the season.”  

Revillosa reminds her teammates that each and every player needs to perform their specific roles in the team. “What will prevent us from achieving [a win] is if the players or each member don’t do their roles, their parts for the wins,” explains the veteran. “For example, if I don’t get the rebounds, if I don’t do defense…may missing link within the system, within the play. If other players wouldn’t do their roles, there’s a high possibility that we won’t reach the Final Four.” 

Having to endure various tournaments, vigorous training, and endless preparations, the Lady Archers will look to take things one game at a time and not look too far ahead as they strive to return to the Final Four. For Revillosa, staying focused and keeping one’s head in the game enables the players to properly react to any situation. “I tell them to focus, do the right plays, look for open guys. Basically, kapag focused ka, you can do everything, you don’t have to worry [about] what you need to do,” she emphasizes.

The DLSU Lady Archers will open their Season 82 campaign against the UP Lady Maroons tomorrow, September 4, at 10 am at the University of Santo Tomas Quadricentennial Pavilion.

Andrea Punzalan

By Andrea Punzalan

Anthony Francis Trajano

By Anthony Francis Trajano

Leave a Reply