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UAAP: Reignited Green Archers look to make their mark in Season 82

The UAAP Season 81 campaign of the Green Archers ended abruptly when they missed out on a Final Four spot, courtesy of the FEU Tamaraws. It was the first time in three years that the Green-and-White sat out early for the postseason activities. While the La Salle faithful watched their archrivals take away the championship, the experience might just be the key to the team’s resurgence.

The team lost a multitude of talent such as players Kib Montalbo and Santi Santillian, among others. Despite that, the recent changes in the roster look to push the team to greater heights. Key additions such as Joel Cagulangan, Jamie Malonzo, and Tyrus Hill are ready to play under the DLSU banner this coming season. The LaSallian spoke with head coach Gian Nazario, team consultant Jermaine Byrd, and team captain Andrei Caracut about their preparations for the upcoming basketball season.

Gaining experience

Nazario meticulously prepared during the preseason through individual assessments of the players and various preseason tournaments such as the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup and the Kadaywan Sports Festival in Davao City. But one aspect that stood out in these preparations are the graduate school students who will suit up this season. Nazario explains, “The [graduate students] all have college basketball experience. I can say it is a seamless fit, but we did our part of sending them the plays earlier, like around April or May, just for them to see it. When they came in, it became easier.”

Despite careful preparations by the coaching staff, Nazario still feels that there is more to learn after the preseason tournaments. “We can’t be satisfied with that. UAAP is a different beast. But for us, we’re excited, we’re happy with what we have. I think it’s just for us coaches and players to understand that we just have to get better every day,” Nazario says.

Byrd, on the other hand, remains level-headed with his expectations, “My expectations realistically is just to compete and give ourselves a chance to win every game. We’re going to play hard and play together—most of all, to get a championship. My expectation though is just for us to compete.”

Embracing the new situation

Due to the changes in players and coaches, with the team now on their third head coach in three years, there comes a shift in team culture. That said, Byrd wants to instill in the team a whole new foundation and mindset, “Everyday we come to the gym to work hard and prepare. I have a high standard, so that’s the mindset—to grind and to be a team. This team is not about one person.”

Team chemistry is also a necessary ingredient when cooking up a successful campaign. Caracut emphasizes the importance of being one collective unit—both on and off the court. “’Di lang naman sa court yun eh, mag-start din yan sa labas…para maka-bond kami as a team. On the court, communication is very important. Yung influence ng mga coaches at yung connection nila sa mga players nila ay tight, gusto talaga nila sa practice palang mag-usap at magkaintindihan na kami para sa game.”

(It’s not always formed on the court, it also starts off it. I try to handle it off the court for us to be able to bond as a team. On the court, communication is very important. With their influence and the tight connection with the players, the coaches want the team to communicate and understand each other even during practice to prepare for the game.)

A challenging start to the campaign

UAAP Season 82 is just right around the corner and with La Salle’s first match being against archrivals Ateneo, Byrd is already up to the task to take on the Katipunan-based squad and engage in the famed rivalry, “I have seen [a DLSU-ADMU matchup] on YouTube. When I took the job, that was the first game I watched. I can’t wait to be a part of it. [The rivalry] reminds me of a Duke-North Carolina game from the [United States]. I’m excited to enrich myself into the tradition and rivalry.” 

The DLSU Green Archers will kick off their season on Sunday, September 8, at 4 pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where they will face the reigning champions, the ADMU Blue Eagles

Rain Leoncio

By Rain Leoncio

Rob Matibag

By Rob Matibag

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