The Green (Archers) Wrecking Machine
The De La Salle Green Archers notched their fourth straight win in as many games to remain the only unbeaten team in the UAAP season 79 Men’s Basketball tournament.
Their latest victim was the erstwhile unbeaten Eric Altamirano mentored National University Bulldogs who fought neck-to-neck until the 7:04 remaining in the final canto off a Jeron Teng basket and never looked back since then. Is DLSU really that good this season? Let’s look at the numbers.
Jeron Teng: The King of the UAAP Kingdom
In four games, Jeron Teng has been averaging a total of 26.9 minutes per game and scoring franchise player numbers with 19 points per game. His highest point output was 28 points against the Far Eastern University Tamarraws. The fifth year King Archer has also been averaging 3.5 rebounds per game. If he continues that statistical trend then the Archers may really have a good run for the title this year. Jeron may not only be the King Archer for this year but with the graduation of other stars like Ateneo’s Kiefer Ravena, National University’s Troy Rosario, and UST’s Kevin Ferrer, he is arguably the King of the UAAP kingdom and what a way for that to happen with an able and steady support from a solid roster whose players can start at any given time.
The player from Cameroon: Big Ben Mbala
The biggest game changer for the Green Archers this season is their man in the middle Big Ben Mbala. The player from Cameroon who waited three years to make his much awaited debut in the UAAP has been averaging monster numbers with 19.2 points per game with the highest output in scoring 30 points against the UST Growling Tigers. He has been averaging 30.2 minutes per game and has been a beast on the boards with 17 rebounds per ball game.
The Architect: Coach Aldin Ayo
During their last win against NU, Coach Aldin Ayo stressed that the system he is implementing in La Salle is anchored on equal opportunity on offense and pressure defense called “mayhem” which produced a championship last year for the Letran Knights in the NCAA.
Coach Ayo has been successful in fielding his super rookies and the gamble has been paying off. In their game against FEU, former La Salle-Zobel scoring machine Aljun Melecio chipped in 10 points, 8 of which coming in the crucial second period where La Salle broke away. In their game against UST he contributed 8 points in 19.7 minutes of play. Against UP, it was Jollo Go’s turn to shine as the former Hope Christian High School star scored 11 points shooting 2/3 from beyond the arc.
In the game against NU, the X factor in that crucial run late in the 3rd period thru the 4th was former NCAA Juniors sensation and La Salle Green Hills standout Ricci Rivero. He came in with 1:43 remaining in the 3rd with La Salle down by 6 54-48. Immediately he made his presence felt scoring 2 points cutting down NU’s lead to 4, 54-50 and made a steal off Alfred Aroga in the next possession that lead to another basket cutting the lead to 2, 54-52. His 6th point came at the last 2 minute mark from a side step move over former Archer Matt Salem upping DLSU’s lead to 7 and probably sealing the deal for the Archers. Rivero made the most of his 10.8 minutes inside the court during the second half scoring 6 points, 4 in that crucial run, adding 1 rebound and 1 assist.
The Archers’ Mayhem Pressure Defense
On the defensive side, the Archers mayhem pressure defense has so far been effective and has been limiting their opponents to an average of 70 points per game. In four games, La Salle had forced a total of 120 turnovers. The only game where they had committed more turnovers than the opposition was the game against FEU 27-17. But over-all their defense is menacing to their opponents. An opponent whose conditioning is not at par with the Archers will just tire out will commit more turnovers. That is the whole essence of the mayhem pressure defense.
Wingmen Waiting to Play Full-Force
What is more worrisome for the opposition is that the Green Archers are still not playing full force. Jason Perkins who is an inside-outside threat is still sidelined with an injury and will still be available towards the end of the first round or early second round. Perkins brings a lot to the table for the Archers. He can bolster the frontline and help in rebounding or spread the floor with his outside shooting. Rookies Justine Baltazar, the 6’7” beanpole and Mark Dyke both out of the National University Junior’s program are just waiting in the wings and the opportunity to contribute.
Numbers don’t lie and if this trend will continue for the De La Salle Green Archers adding to the adjustments that they will make to improve game after game, then they are headed for something special this season.